Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Three Favorite Scripture Verses

Anne at Imprisoned In My Bones has tagged me in the lastest blog MEME.  The theme is "Three Favorite Scripture Verses." The rules are:
  1. Write a post on your three favorite verses from the Bible and why you like them.
  2. Link back to this post.
  3. In your post tag three other bloggers to carry this theme forward, link to you and tag additional bloggers.

I was tempted to cheat by using chapters instead of verses, but as I followed the trail everyone else was good enough to follow the rules (well most used multiple verses at a time, but not chapters) so I better too.
The first one is going to look like I am cheating because I am going to use some verses that aren’t part of the three to explain why I love the first so much.  Plus, this isn’t being graded, right?
1.      Revelation 4:8b, 11b, 12b, 5:13b
Day and night they never stopped singing:
Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
who was, and is and is to come

You  are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,
for you made the whole universe;
by your will, when it did not exist, it was created

Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed
to receive power, riches, wisdom,

strength, honor, glory, and blessing.
The reasons I love this verse:
A.     Isaiah 53:4-5
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore; our sufferings that he endured . . .
but he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins,
upon him was the chastisement
that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
B.     John 10:17-18
The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as I have power to lay it down,
so I have power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have received from my Father.
C.     Revelation 21:3-7
Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘Look, here God lives among human beings.  He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God –with-them.  He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain.  The world of the past has gone.’
Then the One sitting on the throne spoke, ‘Look, I am making the whole of creation new.  Write this, “What I am saying is trustworthy and will come true.  Then he said to me, ‘It has already happened.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty; anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!  By your cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world!
2.     John 19:26-27
Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’  Then to the disciple he said,This is your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
While the gift of himself in the Eucharist is probably the biggest gift, after salvation itself, and the gift of the Holy Spirit is right there too, as it is God giving us God, the gift of Mary to be our Mother is so humbling and overwhelming at times to me, how gracious, loving, and wise Jesus was to do this, even as he hung on the cross in the final moments of his agonizing sacrifice for us.
Mary as my mother, our mother, so wonderful that words cannot express with any success how grateful I am to Jesus for this gift, and to the Father and Holy Spirit for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, mother of God, and my mother.
3.      Romans 8 may be my favorite chapter, at the moment, but like I said I am trying hard not to cheat.  So I’ll go with Romans 8:26b-28 first from Jerusalem Bible which I like because it uses the word “groans”

The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words, and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God.  We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good.

 Second from the RSV-2nd Catholic edition because seems to indicate Spirit is praying for us all the time according to the will of God

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.  And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

I just find it reassuring that when I am struggling, and even groaning myself vocally or internally,  the Holy Spirit is interceding for me in accordance with the will of God.  Also I find it reassuring personally that as I do love God very much, and pray that he will help me to love him more, that I can take confidence in knowing my omnipotent, all-loving Father will work everything for the good of me and those who love him.   
Thanks for the tag Anne!
And now I tag the following bloggers:
Two additional as I think I over-reached tagging Sister Mary Martha and Fr. John Bartunek:

Author at Do Not Be Anxious
Ebeth at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars

--- Completed
Danya at He Adopted Me First
--------- Pending tags ---------
Sister Mary Martha at Ask Sister Mary Martha
Fr. John Bartunek at Catholic Spiritual Direction

Monday, May 30, 2011

Praise God!

There was a question posted on the Catholic Spiritual Direction blog asking for help with praising God.

Q: Can you give any help on how to learn to praise God? I enjoy going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and would really like to learn how to praise Him. I don’t feel my words are adequately expressing the praise I really would like to give. Thanksgiving is easier, but I would be grateful for some advice on the praise side.

The answers from Fr. John Bartunek were outstanding:
Read more:

I enjoy praising by singing.  I listen to KLOVE, or my rather extensive, for a 43 year old, Christian Music library.  Well, I don't just listen, like I said, I sing.  I love to sing.  I sing while bike riding wearing my new Nano, I sing for as long as I have breath while running, I sing in my car the most, even when driving with my kids, and with their friends.  It helps that they attend a Christian school where they sing many of the same songs in chapel.  I imagine it would be a little awkward if we sent them to one of the Catholic high schools.

Or would it?

Are there any Catholics out there that are listening and singing to Christian praise music?  If so, please leave a comment!

Not all the music is praise music, of course, as some of it is meant to reach us in our sadness, disappointment, and frustration.  Some of it is about conversion.  Some is thanksgiving, some just offering love.  Maybe I'll have posts in the future with some of the non-praise music as there are some great, great songs.

There is at least one Catholic that gets play time, and concert time on the Christian music circuit.  His name is Matt Maher, and some of you are probably familiar with him.  I love his music and his witness.  He has a blog on his site where he writes his reflections on each Sunday's readings.  I happened across his first one where he was explaining the Lectionary to an audience that would  not be that familiar with a Lectionary.  Although he does have quite a following among Catholics as well, and plays a number of Catholic events during the year

This post is about Praising God, though and here are a few of my favorite songs that do just that, along with the lyrics so we can sing and praise together.  First 2 are by Chris Tomlin who is probably the #1 performer of Praise and Worship music at this time.
Well this one doesn't have lyrics but, still great song.  Listen 2-3 times you'll have the words, it is Song of Love praising the three persons in the Glorious Holy Trinity performed by Rebecca St. James.
Finally Matt Maher puts the praise in the Our Father to music, and it doesn't sound like the Perry Como version:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quick Take Friday - first time submitter

- 1 -
Today is my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s birthday.  This, the fact that our parents were married one day apart (his 12/16/66, mine 12/17/66--probably within 24 hours so same day), and the fact that both my fiancĂ© (22 years ago) and I had showers with the hot and cold reversed was one of the “signs” we were on the right path.  We have been married for 20.5 years now.  Happy birthday to our moms!

- 2 -
I found a baby turtle on a 2 hour 50 minute bike ride two weeks ago.  He must be a closet eater because somehow he is still alive even though I have yet to see him eat.  The novelty of this little pet is wearing off on me, although the kids are still asking me to hold him.  I am home for the summer and have never been reptilian pet fan.  Baby turtles do have to be the cutest reptiles, although I guess some prefer geckos.

- 3 -
I typed up my third grader’s biography report on Fanny Crosby, blind woman that wrote many famous hymns like “Safe in the Arms” of Jesus.  Here is my favorite part of Kelly’s report:
The children always said mean things like, “You’re lame!”  “You’re weird.”  “You’re different.”  “You cannot play with us, because you cannot see anything.”
I do not know what happened next, but if it was me that they were teasing, I would be crying in my mother’s arms.  But she thought that a blind person should be able to do almost anything a person with sight could do.  She also thought that just because she cannot see, does not mean that she should not be able to play with other children.

- 4 -
Here is my second favorite thing from Kelly’s report:
Fanny wrote most of her hymns after midnight.  When she wrote hymns she would like to have a tune rather than a topic to write about.  Lots of her hymns brought people to Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, the One who created the earth, the Almighty One, the One who died on the cross to forgive the world’s sin.
I could say a lot more good things about God, but we need to get back to the story.
- 5 -
My third favorite thing from same report:
One teen-aged boy sang, “Safe In the Arms of Jesus” while he was in the hospital with a bad illness.  Five minutes later, he died.  Just as his soul departed, he cried out, “Ma, I hear the voices of angels!  Ma, there are fields of glory!  Ma there is a jasper sea!”

- 6 -
My 14 year old daughter has “banquet” tonight.  She attends a non-denominational Christian private school, as do my other three children.  Banquet is their prom, except 8th grade through 12th grade attend, as do the parents of the graduating students—those in 8th and 12th grade.  Megan has some genes from my mother-in-law I think or some that were recessive in me as I have always been a tom-girl with little to no fashion sense.  I was in Joann Fabrics with her the other day (I think I've been in there once before) selecting fabric for her to make a sash/belt for the dress she got for $25 at the sale at school.  Her selection was impressive as was the brightness of her eyes.  I couldn’t help her, but I was glad to see her enjoyment.  The kids in 8th through 12th grade also have off today, I guess so they can finish last minute preparations for their big event tonight.

- 7 -
My older son, Michael Shea is 12 and he is always asking me to catch.  I love to catch baseball, actually more than softball, because you can throw it harder and farther.  I remember I didn’t get signed up for sports before I was in 5th grade, and then it was just basketball at school.  Not exactly sure why, but I think it had something to do with my parents not playing organized  sports growing up, and there wasn’t much money left over for activities after paying the bills each month.  Anyway, I do remember playing catch with my Dad and him being a little surprised at how I threw the ball when we first found some mitts at my grandparent’s house during a vacation trip.  So great I have Michael to bug me to throw with him so often!  We both enjoy it until the end when we both get tired and start overthrowing each other.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unceasing Prayer - The Jesus Prayer

Pray without ceasing.
 ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The most normal form of unceasing prayer in the Eastern rite and Orthodox tradition is the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is the form of invocation used by those practicing mental prayer, also called the "prayer of the heart." The words of the prayer most usually said are 

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

This is truly a powerful prayer and has very much helped me to reconnect to my Lord and Savior throughout the day.  I was actually taught the prayer by a Roman Catholic priest at the end of a confession.  Now I am attending a Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church and I am teaching it to the 1st and 2nd grade students each year in the Religion School.

Many of you are familiar with this prayer, whereas maybe some of you are hearing about it for the first time. 

If you have been praying this prayer would you leave a comment on why you pray this prayer and what it has meant to you?  

As my readership is quite low at this point, you may also want to subscribe to the comments because maybe some will come in weeks or months from now.

There are days that pass when I forget to pray this, but I don't think a week has gone by when I haven't prayed this.  Normally I pray it many times throughout the day.  There are monks that pray it hundreds of times throughout the day using prayer ropes!  
  • It helps me focus my awareness on Jesus dwelling within me
  • It fosters my proper place before God, humble sinner, dependent completely on his mercy
  • I believe it protects me, I am calling to my Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God; the demons in New Testament would call him Son of God, but not Lord!
  • Many times it gives me that peaceful, slight chill in the back of my head and neck reminding me--God is with me!
  • When I am praying earnestly for someone, after I pray initially, I can continue to pray this prayer by inserting their name, and the names of those involved with their situation in place of "me" in the prayer.  It helps me to keep praying for them while I go about other things.
Where do I pray this:
  • In my car driving
  • At work:  at my desk, in meetings, in the stairwell, etc.
  • At home
  • In church if I feel distracted
  • While working out--running, biking, swimming, etc.
  • Anywhere else I remember, or the Holy Spirit prompts me

Theological and Spiritual Meaning of the Jesus Prayer
The choice of this particular verse has a theological and spiritual meaning.

First of all, it is centered on the name of Jesus because this is the name of Him whom "
God has highly exalted," the name given to the Lord by God Himself (Luke 1:31), the "name which is above every name." (Philippians 2:9-10, cf Ephesians 1:21)

...for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

All prayer for Christians must be performed in the name of Jesus: "
if you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14) 

The fact that the prayer is addressed to Jesus as Lord and Christ and Son of God is because this is the center of the entire faith revealed by God in the Spirit.

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." 
And Jesus answered, "Blessed are you...for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven...and on this rock I will build my Church..." (Matthew 16:16-18)

That Jesus is the Christ, and that the Christ is Lord is the essence of the Christian faith and the foundation of the Christian church. To believe and proclaim this is granted by the Holy Spirit. one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:3) 

... every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11)

In calling Jesus the Son of God is to acknowledge God as His Father. To do this is, at the same time, to have God as one's own Father, and this too is granted by the indwelling Spirit.

And when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:4-6) 

When we cry "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God ... (Romans 8:15-16)

Thus, to pray "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God" is already to be a child of God, and already to be certain that the Holy Spirit is in you. In this way, the Jesus Prayer brings the Spirit of God into the heart of man.

"Have mercy on me a sinner" is the publican's prayer. When uttered with humble conviction it brings divine justification. (cf. Luke 18:9-14

Generally speaking, divine mercy is what man needs most of all. It is for this reason that the numberless repetition of the request for the Lord's mercy is found everywhere in the prayers of, the Church.

And finally, all men are sinners. To know this is a fact, and to confess it with faith is to be justified and forgiven by God. (cf. Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14:1-3)


If you are interested in learning more after you read this, there are so many different sites that come up on quick Google. Unfortunately I can't find the one that provided the following information that I use with my 1st, 2nd graders and give on a handout to their parents.  I'll have to do better job keeping my references going forward!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Most Essential: Christ's Commandments to Love

Recently I engaged in a back-and-forth in the blogosphere.

The topic was interesting and it kept me intellectually occupied for a couple days researching church teaching not just in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but some source documents that went back a few decades.  My counterpart is a sharp sister - not a nun - a fellow Catholic that takes seriously to learn and defend the faith.

One of the concluding remarks from her side was, "your compassion is misplaced."  I could not really respond after that.  I don't think she meant it as bad as it reads, it was just her other point was a stronger one to her, and this part of it had to be weakened I think.

Hard to imagine compassion being misplaced.  I am not writing this to win an argument.  I am making a new one.

Love is Primary.  Everything else is secondary and that includes moralism.

I am just sharing as powerfully as a new blogger can the most important, most essential knowledge I have gained in my 43 years breathing air.

I am going to cover this hard, with the Word of God, with the words from His mouth (Jesus=Word of God), and other words from scripture, with images and music that will viscerally and emotionally impact you.

   You may come away from this post thinking I hit a finishing nail with a sledgehammer.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a homily on August 30, 2009, "Wisdom seeks to understand what matters.  Whereas knowing many things may be useful, it is nothing without wisdom.  Wisdom is
 knowledge of the essential, knowledge of the aim of our life and of how we should live." 

The two greatest commandments were summarized by Jesus, and this seems good place to start if I am looking for knowledge of the essential, the aim of my life, and how I should live.

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength
  2. Love others (with His grace) as He has loved us

I add the "with His grace" because there will be times when we in our humanity, our brokenness will not be able to love or forgive without His grace.

In short it all comes down to love.

You'll recognize this verse, many use it in their weddings.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:3

Are you familiar with this one?

We have recognized for ourselves, and put our faith in, the love God has for us.
God is love,
and whoever remains in love,
remains in him. ~ 1 John 4:16

Pope Benedict XVI wrote in
Deus Caritas (God is Love) Est 7:
Yet to become a source, one must constantly drink a new from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (referring to the scene in John 19:34)

What images help you visualize God's love for us?

  • God's love for us is similar to the look of love a mother has as she holds her newborn baby
  • David's (OT -- 1 & 2 Samuel) fatherly love, compassionate and self-sacrificing for Absalom even when he had mind for patricide
  • Jesus praying for forgiveness for those putting him through physical agony
Here is a song that really drills home the love of God and its symbolism is especially powerful as we are still in the midst of the longest running wars in The United States of America's history.  I have two versions, one from a radio studio.  Vocals aren't as pure, but the expression is there on the performers faces (Cherryholmes).  The second is one with pictures of our military men and women.

If you watched Passion of the Christ you'll remember the scene from John 19:34
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  
(that occurs at 4:00, if you want to skip to it, and then come back later when you are ready to see what precedes it, which is a) Christ's great gift of his Mother to be Our Spiritual Mother, b) Christ yelling out his feeling of abandoment prophesied in Psalm 22:1, c) the actual giving up of his spirit.)

Disclaimer:     This is the part where I thought you would think finishing nail being hit with a sledgehammer.  This is the most powerful scene in the movie.  You might want to take a second to prepare your heart.

What is essential?

  • Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus because it focuses on Christ's interior life and his personal relationship with each one of us.  Christ "loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
  • Contemplate that love!  Experience that love, and respond to that love.  Living with an ongoing awareness of God's love for us, for me personally, inspires gratitude.
  • Make reparation to the heart of Jesus by sorrowfully acknowledging our sins, and the ingratitude we and others are guilty of, and make sincere effort to respond to love with love.
How do I contemplate Christ's love for Me?

St. Margaret Mary was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus's Real Presence--Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearance of the host stored in the Tabernacle in her convent, when Jesus appeared to her bearing his Sacred Heart.

He said to her, "
Behold the Heart that has loved men . . . instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part of mankind only ingratitude."

To contemplate the heart of Jesus is to contemplate his love.  We praise him.  We thank him.  We offer him our own love in return, which he so desperately desires.

Here is a prayer from
A Heart Like His: Mediations on the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Father Thomas D. Williams:

Lord Jesus, let me never become hardened to the central truth of my existence.

You love me!  
No matter what befalls me, no matter what direction my life takes, you will always be there with your love for me.
You will be my strength, my consolation, my all.
I trust in your love.
Jesus, I love you so much.
You better than anyone know how poor and fragile my love is,
yet I wish it were a bonfire like your own.
I desire to love you more, to love you as you deserve.
I wish to be an apostle of your love, to help others to know and experience it, so that they may love you, too.
Please grant me this desire.
Heart of Jesus, burning bonfire of love, make my heart like yours!

Jesus told Martha what was essential in Luke 10:39, 42

Martha had a sister called Mary , "who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching."  Martha wanted Jesus to get Mary to get up and help her serve him and the other guests.
Jesus said, "One thing is needful.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

Q:  What is essential?  What one thing is needful?

A:  To sit and worship at the feet of Jesus as we learn from his teaching.

How are we to live?  Jesus tells us
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.  And a second is like it.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ~ Matthew 22:37-39

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love! . . . 

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ~ John 15:10, 12

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:34-35

Scott Hahn's commentary on this last verse in the 
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible:
The Torah commanded human love for ourselves and our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18).  Jesus commands divine love for one another that is modeled on Jesus's own acts of charity and generosity (John 15:13, 1 John 3:15-18).  This supernatural love comes not from us but from the Spirit (Romans 5:5, CCC 1822-1829).

Jesus speaking:

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13
This I command you, to love one another. ~ John 15:17

How do you lay down your life for your friends? 

(from spirituality/love/desert_spirituality taken from Love as God Loves by Roberta Bondi)

When asked what this means, Abba Peomen (Desert Father) answered, “When a [person] hears a complaining word and struggles against himself [or herself], and does not . . . begin to complain; when a [person] bears an injury with patience, and does not look for revenge; that is when a [person] lays down his [or her] life for his [or her] neighbor.” 

The Desert Fathers teach that love is expressed, not in great acts, but in small acts done with great love.

How much easier it is to daydream about the dramatic acts of love and self-sacrifice I or the church might make to prove our love of God or neighbor! But the temptation to regard such small actions as unimportant while there are so many serious social problems in the world is the temptation to understand the Christian life only in heroic proportions.
While we dream of heroic acts of love, we often fail to simply love others in small ways:  “If we wish to love our neighbor, we start small by trying first to avoid harming the neighbor, refusing to gossip about the neighbor, and offering small help”.
The assumption of the Desert Fathers was that “it is the little things we do over a long period of time that form character and make our relationships with ourselves, others, and God what they are”. Through small steps we express God’s love: “If you are able to extend one small act of kindness to another human being you have already begun to live out of [God’s] love”.

St. John the Evangelist speaking:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren   But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:16-18

St. Paul the Apostle speaking:

Because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:5b

CCC 1822

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God  above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

CCC 1823b

By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive.

Jesus speaking again:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. ~ John 15:9

Want to learn more?  Please check out this site.  It is amazing . . .has some amazing metaphors to show us how to love God, and how with God's grace to love others.  

Here is an excerpt, and I would include the whole thing but then if you have read this far, you may be going well past your available post reading time for one blog.
For the Desert Fathers, love is the goal. Dorotheos offers a beautiful illustration concerning how the practice of love toward others draws us into the love of God.
Suppose we were to take a compass and insert the point and draw the outline of a circle. The center point is the same distance from any point on the circumference. . . . Let us suppose that this circle is the world and that God himself is the center: the straight lines drawn from the circumference to the center are the lives of human beings. . . . Let us assume for the sake of the analogy that to move toward God, then, human beings move from the circumference along the various radii of the circle to the center. But at the same time, the closer they are to God, the closer they become to one another; and the closer they are to one another, the closer they become to God.
This metaphor not only illustrates how love draws us to God, but it also puts God in his proper place – at the center of all things and all relationships. “It assumes that God is present in a real way in God’s own universe, at the center, metaphorically speaking, drawing all people and things to God by a natural love for God, placed in their nature by their creator”.
(Italics emphasis added) If the goal is love, and love toward others draws us into the love of God, then the opposite is also true. Refusing to love others draws us away from the love of God. Keeping the goal of love in mind is an antidote against the mistaken idea that one could actually be a good Christian if it were not for other people!
Keeping this in mind keeps us from descending into moralism: “If the fulfillment of the moral law for its own sake is seen to be the point of the law, the temptation is, in cases of doubt, to err on the side of caution. But if the point of the law is love, then the Christian must be prepared to take real risks for the sake of other people”.
May God's Holy Spirit water the very powerful words from this post in my heart and all that read it so that we may all bear fruit for his kingdom!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Miracle Prayer

Father Rookey during a healing service in 
Medjugorje 1995

Do you want a spiritual miracle?

I would.  Let's try this.  It was written by Fr. Peter Mary Rookey, a priest.

Who is Fr. Rookey? 
 In 1948, after having been healed miraculously from blindness, Fr. Peter Mary Rookey formed the Servite Order in Ireland. Father has traveled the world using his charism, including many trips to Medjugorje.

In Medjugorje, Father was asked to bless a young boy in a wheelchair, and after having blessed the young boy, Father ordered the boy to stand up. The boy stood up and walked to Fr. Rookey and fell sobbing with joy into his arms!

Fr. Rookey shares what he calls a Miracle Prayer.  He tells us to say this prayer faithfully, no matter how you feel, while holding a crucifix of any size.

When you come to the point where you sincerely mean each word fully with all of your heart, then you will experience something spiritually good.  You will experience Jesus, and HE will change your whole life in a very special way.

I am going to try praying this each morning, and I'll report back.  If you try it too, and experience something spiritually good, please let me know with a comment to this post.  

The Miracle Prayer

Lord Jesus, I come before you just as I am. I am sorry for my sins, I repent of my sins, please forgive me. In your name I forgive all others for what they have done against me.

I renounce Satan, the evil spirits and all their works. I give you my entire self, Lord Jesus now and forever. I invite you into my life, Jesus. I accept you as my Lord, God and Saviour. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul, and spirit.

Come, Lord Jesus, cover me with your precious blood, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I Love You, Lord Jesus. I Praise You, Jesus. I Thank You, Jesus. I shall follow you every day of my life. Amen.

Mary my mother, Queen of Peace, all the Angels and Saints, please help me. Amen.     

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kingdom of God Within You

Really, the Kingdom of God is Within You?


Luke 17:21
The Kingdom of God is among you.

God’s grace is at work in the midst of our daily lives.  God is inviting and inspiring and knocking at the doors of people’s hearts from within.

When we pray “Your kingdom come” in the Our Father, we might also pray for our hearts to be cooperative to the working of God’s grace from within.  We need with God’s grace to learn to trust in the Lord at all times, and not to doubt that God is God and we are not.  God is infinite goodness and love.

Not knowing our path, or even wanting to do God’s will and not knowing what it is at a given point in time are hard.

Suffering the loss of a loved one, or a battle with a disease and not being able to find meaning in that suffering, or loving comfort from the God we believe to be loving and "Our Father" is harder.

In future posts I will share some of what I am learning about this the harder of the two – suffering and not feeling the comfort from God when we need it most.

Here are some more verses to know that you don’t need to look any further for your God than the tabernacle of your own soul:

John 14:23
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him."

Ephesians 3:17
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love . . .

2 Corinthians 6:16b
As God hath said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

If you are reading this and wondering how to find this Kingdom within, there are multiple answers depending on your faith tradition.   My faith teaches Baptism of water and the Holy Spirit.  

Evangelicals teach that there is a prayer by which one is Saved.

I don’t doubt the prayer formula of Evangelicals.  I think it is similar to the Baptism by Desire mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1260.

If a friend asked me how to become a believer, and to experience this Kingdom of God within, the very presence of God in your soul, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then I would recommend finding a Catholic Priest that would find a way for you to get on the fast track to water Baptism followed by Confirmation (sealing with the Holy Spirit).  

If you read the book of Acts you will see this is how people became part of the community of believers known as the Church.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hope This Helps

I sent this to a friend recently that was inconsolable.  

Even though we are co-workers with a developing, and likely lasting friendship, and that we frequently enjoy laughs together, I failed in person to cheer up, or to help the person vent. 

I am reproducing this with details removed for privacy reasons.

"It is a trite saying but this will pass.

You are a genuinely good person.  You do not deserve this lack of support.  I can’t say anything to cheer you up, but I am stopping in Church to pray for you again tonight, because God can strengthen you and give you peace.

When I am inadequate to help someone I care about, all I can do is pray for you, and then I hope these verses touch you and give you strength to endure this.

Philippians 4:
[5] Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
[6] Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
[7] And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
[13] I can do all things in him who strengthens me."

Hope this helps you too.  I am writing for just that reason.

Why do I think this is helpful verse for all of us, every believer, or prospective believer in Christ?

My belief is whether we are in middle of suffering, sickness, grief, or joy, health, prosperity, it is better with God.  

Not just God as Creator, and distant reality, but God as tender, loving Father, Father of Compassion and Mercy.
If you are sad, angry, suffering, or just feel there is something lacking in your relationship with God, my hope and prayer is that you will find someone, or some word somewhere, maybe here, that draws you to the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ.

I know you will find strength and healing through the Way, the Truth, and the Life in the person of Jesus Christ.

In this post I am not going to document questions that come to mind as to why suffering and sadness and emotional roller coasters, with very steep dips, impact good, loving, kind people.  Possibly in future post I will, as well as summarize some of the explanations that others--wiser, more experienced, and more eloquent than me have offered to help with those questions.

We can do all things and endure all things because of Christ, when we dwell in him, and when we deliberately direct our consciousness to the reality of the Holy Trinity dwelling within us.

We can do all things in Christ who strengthens us.

If you don't understand how the Holy Trinity comes to dwell in us, that is the part of Christ's teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is not solely a future, after death reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is also within, in the midst of us.  Maybe that will be subject of my next post?