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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Lord Teaches You!

17 Thus says the Lord,   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:I am the Lord your God,   who teaches you for your own good,   who leads you in the way you should go. 18 O that you had paid attention to my commandments!   Then your prosperity would have been like a river,   and your success like the waves of the sea; (Isaiah 47:17-18)

This is from the first reading at Mass yesterday.  Don't you love that the Lord teaches us for our own good and leads us in the way we should go?

I was very surprised last week while talking to a sidewalk counselor outside of a Chicago abortion facility.  This woman is extremely faithful to her calling to be there before and after women visit the facility.  Our own group goes to this clinic one Saturday a month, and to another in the suburbs one Saturday a month.  This woman goes to this clinic every single Saturday morning.  Not just for an hour and a half, as our group does, but from 6:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m or later.  

Last Saturday was really super cold.  I could not feel my feet past the arch.  My toes were still there, but I could no longer feel them.  This woman dressed more intelligently than me.  She knew about "smart wool" socks that kept your toes from going numb.



St. John Cantius Church, Chicago
What surprised me was this faithful woman, who is putting the Psalms to music, was very scared of her personal judgment.  I told her about going to the Latin High Mass at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.  The priest didn't make jokes, he actually gave a pretty scary homily covering the last things, death, personal judgment, the last judgment, heaven, hell, purgatory--with its cleansing fire.

He had said, "It isn't a teaching of the Church, but a doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, said the suffering of purgatory is greater than any suffering that can be endured on this earth."

That isn't actually a correct quote by the way.  I'll have that in a moment for you.  

But geez, that is scary isn't it?  I had come to think of purgatory along the lines of what St. Catherine of Genoa spoke of, that the real knowledge of the love of God and his holiness purified her with moans and groans and led her to do penances, but I no longer thought of it as "fire" after reading her account.  Still there is passage from The Way of Love by Sr. Josefa Menendez, a personal revelation--again not a teaching of the church that describe it more of a place.

I am not scared of my personal judgment.  Are you?  I know I am a sinner, I know that I do not resemble Jesus, meek and humble of heart, rich in compassion.  But for some reason, I trust that he has me, that he has grasped me, and he has made me his own. (see Philippians 3:12)

Do you pray when you read the Bible?  Do you believe that the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to "teach you for your own good"?

One of the objectives I feel is impressed on me most, by the Holy Spirit, while preparing and teaching my 1st and 2nd grade Religion School class, is to teach them that reading the Bible can be like reading a love letter from God to us.  I really try to get the kids hooked on reading the Bible, that they will learn things about God's Glory and Power and Love and Mercy in its words that are actually purposely hidden from them in the things they will hear in the world.  I teach them that there is a difference between a person that goes to church or tries to be a good person, and a person that faithfully turns to the Bible to be taught and loved by God in its words.  

There are people that go to church but don't understand the commandments to love and to forgive and to pray for our enemies.

There are people that go to church but don't understand that we are forbidden to indulge in horoscopes or fortune telling.

There are people that go to church and don't understand the clear warnings of St. Paul on drunkenness and fornication. (see Ephesians 5:3)  Of course it doesn't help when we get this reading at church and the priest squirms while it is proclaimed and then doesn't touch it with a 100 foot pole during the homily.

There are people that have been brought up Catholic or Protestant or Jewish and then personally use the Lord's name in vain, including the Lord Jesus Christ's name in vain repeatedly during the day.  You know what? I've never heard a priest mention why this is sinful, shameful and sad in a homily at Mass?  I've heard a priest speak powerfully on how powerful the name of Jesus is, but not to mention how horrific it is that someone "who has been given much" (see Luke 12:47-49) i.e. the gift of faith and knowledge of Christ's sacrifice, could then routinely use the name of Jesus Christ in place of a curse word when they are angry.  How many parents model this behavior for their children?

One of the first things that I think is impressed on someone that reads Scripture is that the holiness of God and his name are connected.  When I hear people say "Jesus Christ" like other people use the f-bomb, it hurts.  I pray for them.  I pray the Divine Praises after Communion in reparation for their blasphemy.  

There seems to be quite a bit of this at my current job.  During the third week we were doing a production conversion and a Chinese woman that probably knows very little about Jesus Christ, kept saying his name as a swear with a very think Chinese accent.  Then another project manager consultant was put in a room with me.  She seems to have gone to Catholic high school and she too was regularly saying Jesus Christ in anger throughout the day.  This seems to have dropped off since I let her know I get over to the Daily Mass at Old St. Patrick's a couple times a week.  

Sorry for the rant there.  Back to my point . . . the Lord does teach us and guide us on our path. Is he doing this for you?  He has undeniably been doing this for me in abundance since as long as I can remember.  Truly the cup of my understanding, my faith, my love for Him has been growing as a result of what he began teaching me through Holy Scripture, through the saints, through people pursuing holiness and greater love of God and neighbor, and  through prayer throughout my life. (see Psalm 23:5)

When you read passages like the following, you know he is telling you, "come closer.  I want to hold you close to my heart.  I love you more than you can understand.  Trust in me!  It hurts me when you don't trust in me!"


The Lord called me before I was born,   while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. (Isaiah 49:1)
14 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,   my Lord has forgotten me.’ 15 Can a woman forget her nursing-child,   or show no compassion for the child of her womb?Even these may forget,   yet I will not forget you. 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; (Isaiah 49:14-16)

Besides scripture, two saints in particular teach us what it means to trust God and to trust him wholeheartedly for our salvation because his mercy, his Divine Mercy, which gushed from his pierced side in the form of his Precious blood and water.  He is our mediator before the justice of God.  These two saints are St. Faustina and St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.  

St. Therese's Offering to Merciful Love (long version) focuses on the fact that there is nothing we can do to merit heaven, instead we rely on the love of God who spared not his only beloved Son (John 3:16), and on the merits of Jesus, on his heart burning with Love.

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Savior and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.  

We should all realize that God's condescension to save us, his Mercy is greater than we can imagine.

How quickly we in our humanity are to overlook a coldness or slight from a friend we love.  

How quickly I grab my own child in my arms when he looks at me with pleading eyes, and is yelling through tears, "Mom, I am sorry," looking for forgiveness and a hug.  

God is Pure Love.  God is Kindness.  God is Compassion.  God is Mercy.  Why would I fear him when he has already led me in the path I should go.  And what is that path?  It is to follow the Good Shepherd by reading, knowing, and following his teaching and example.  By asking him to hold us close to his heart that we might be transformed by his love and mercy.

I told this woman that I don't think it will be as fearful as she imagines.  I think she will experience different emotions than fear.  We have the hope and assurance that we will see Jesus Christ face to face when we die.  He will be shining in glory, brighter than the sun, his clothes brighter than the snow as was described in the Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration.  

His eyes will be full of love and mercy toward us.  We may be filled with deep regret, that we may even experience viscerally like St. Catherine of Genoa writes, that we were anything less than adoring, loving and seeking after his will and following his commandments faithfully in life.

But how will we not be ecstatically happy, filled with joy beyond this life's comprehension, as one priest said, "take the happiest you've been in your life and multiply it by infinity", to have the privilege of being in front of him, and knowing that he has given us the gift of eternal life with him?

This is what St. Thomas Aquinas actually said about purgatory:
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia, Two Notes on Purgatory
It seems that the pains of purgatory are greater than all pains of this life. The pain of loss (that is, the pain of delay in coming to the beatific vision) is the greater of the two types of pain in purgatory. The lesser is the pain of sense.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trust

Photo
 
Often quoted but every time I read it I think, "You mean right now? Even about this?"
 
I apologize I haven't been blogging much of late.  I might be able to work toward a once a week posting schedule in the future.  My new job has given me the excitement of taking the commuter train daily in and out of Chicago, but also means a 60-90 minute commute each way, each day--the longest of my adult life, and not much has changed with the usual load of cooking, homework support, sports, pro-life, and Sunday school teaching time commitments.
 
This post will be short as it is really a means of procrastinating updating a presentation due for tomorrow, and I don't want to work all night like I did last week.  I needed to get this job and to do well as our bank account was in the red for several reasons.  Now I am very focused on simply providing for our family.  This has given me a new found discipline of arriving before 8 a.m. each day.  For some people that is the norm, but it never has been for me.
 
I don't find much time to exercise now as I did during my extended summer hiatus from work.  I think I need to find a way to do that though as I notice I feel a persistent, anxious tension in my throat and chest the past few days.  I think it comes from the stress of the commute and needing to do well at this job.  Hard workouts help me keep a better handle on these types of stress reactions.  I think my body needs to be exerted so as to not over-react to what are daily stresses.  However, it is really hard to exercise at 5:30 a.m., or to exercise after 9:30 p.m. at night when you have been up since 5:30 a.m.  I have tried to drink more decaf and less regular coffee to see if that helps, but pretty sure I need to pray and find a way of exercising 3 times a week.

Scripture continues to be so important for me to hear God and sense his active love and care for me in the moment, no matter how removed from God that moment seems to be.  Have been praying the Scriptural Rosary some mornings on the train, and attending Daily Mass at 12:10 in downtown church on a couple workdays each week.  Also there are books I am reading and random Facebook posts from pages I've liked, that provide steady flow of scripture verses for me to consider, and if they strike me, share with my FB friends.   It helps fill the void of actually blogging!
 
I was surprised by an instant message on MS Office Communicator on Tuesday.  Someone newly assigned to my project team asked me if he had seen me in St. Patrick's church the previous day.  So now we can encourage each other to attend.  I think he is getting there more often than me,  and as I want to attend more, knowing him will help.  Sometimes I think I really need that extra 30 minutes to finish something, but Mass is so much more than 30 minutes more toward a task!  Adoring God!  Being fed by the Word and the Body of Christ, and being lifted up seeing others that also left the office to worship!  I can't attend Mass on the train ride, but I can easily make up that 30 minutes on my laptop while riding home.
 
Interestingly he is an India Indian and he doesn't have a first name like a saint.  I hope to hear his story sometime.  He is obviously in love with Jesus.  I told him how blessed I was to be so close to a window that has non-blocked view of Old St. Patrick's.  His response?  "You are fortunate to sit there and be so often reminded of Jesus."  This was from our first instant message exchange.  How can you not feel that joy well inside of you when you unexpectedly encounter someone else that loves Jesus and is not so careful to keep that hidden?
 
Last week I had a similar chance encounter.  My train stopped suddenly at a stop about midway between Chicago and my suburb.  The train immediately ahead of us had struck a pedestrian, which means delays of 2-3 hours for the coroner and police investigation.  My daughter was playing in what might have been her final high school volleyball match, so when they opened the doors I exited immediately and had Siri find me a taxi service.  I called right away, but there was a cab from that company waiting already.  Some other stranded commuters tried to get him to take them, but he said he was waiting for someone else.  They were also pretty demanding with him.  I stood there quietly waiting as I saw him make a call.  When he got off I edged over to the cab and told him I had ordered a cab . . . he asked where I was going and then told me to get in.  His other fare hadn't shown up, and I guess I struck him as less rude than the others that were asking him.
 
It turned out this was another chance encounter with a devout Catholic.  He is 74 and he told me his and his wife's date night each week is an Adoration hour at his church in Park Ridge.  We talked about EWTN, St. Faustina, St. Augustine, and St. Monica.  He, like another couple I met at Mundelein Seminary when Father Barron was offering Mass, was frustrated that his adult children were no longer attending Mass.  I tried to encourage him as I did earlier with the other couple with the story of my friend, who had been away for many years, and did not return to regular Mass attendance until after she turned 40.
 
I'm not sure if I'll ever see the cab driver again, nor if a good friendship will grow between me and my co-worker, but I have a sense that we'll be seeing each other on the other side some day.  Thank God, Our Father, for having drawn all of us to him through Jesus, the beloved Son he did not spare so as to save us.
 
Yes this post seems to lack a theme with random updates.  I am trusting God.  I still long for when I am in more constant awareness and communication with God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  In the meantime I love and trust God, and seek his will when I remember, and he beckons to me through scripture, through friends, including through unexpected new friends that share my faith.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Blessings

Fr. Michael Gaitley teaches an Ignatian form of the Daily Examination of Conscience in the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus, that follows the acronym BAKER.  Where B is Blessings . . . and blessings can be positive or they can also be trials.  When I heard him discuss this on Catholic Bookmark he mentioned how important it is to not skip over this part of the Daily Examen.  To spend some time here.  Fr. Gaitley describes in the book how St. Ignatius became so attune to the blessings of God throughout his day that many times during the day he would realize God's loving action and be brought to tears.  This presumably developed through his practice of recalling blessings and thanking God for them.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in the negative sometimes.  I could write a post three-times a day, that understandably no one would want to read, because it would just be me ranting, probably self-righteously and with rash judgment on whatever I was dissatisfied about and wanted to end or change.  This would probably be self-destructive as well as nothing destroys peace more than indulging in the negative and critical and then what happens when I am a little too descriptive and those from my real life find my little posts?  Unemployment and social shunning I suppose . . .

This post is simply to thank God for some recent blessings.
  • Friends that prayed for me to find a job
  • Friends that sent me emails with possible leads to jobs
  • Friends that offered suffering for my intentions
  • Getting a job after a long time off, due to wanting to be home with the children this summer, but then an extended search period versus any time earlier in my 9 years as an independent consultant.  I interviewed Friday morning, 9/30/13 at 8:15 a.m., then began work the following Monday, 10/2/13 at 8:15 a.m.  Believe me after being off all summer, really most of last Spring too, and then having medical bills from three of the six of us over the summer, our checking account was in the red, for the first time since early after graduating college. 
  • Attending a Mass offered by a priest and friend at a nursing home with my 4 children, and having them not want to leave as they loved visiting with the patients and playing piano for them afterward; one wants to volunteer there now, my oldest, and the two girls want to take up piano again so they can play better next time.  They had quit over a year ago.
  • Finding a job within 2 blocks of a beautiful church, Old St. Patrick's on the west side of the Chicago Loop, and having a view of it, unblocked by any skyscrapers in downtown Chicago; this means that at any point in my day I can look out and be reminded of Christ's gift to us of the Blessed Sacrament; prior to this I was happy to be within 5-7 minute ride of a church.  
    Inside Old St. Patrick's looking toward the Choir Loft
     
  • My youngest son making me lunch:  ham and shredded cheese roll-ups with a sprinkling of dill.  No bread, just cheese, dill rolled in sliced ham.  He emphasized that they were made with love.  This is just too precious!
  • Scripture reading, even the single verses I receive in daily email from KLove's "Encouraging Word" or the verses provided for meditation in the Scriptural Rosary are also a source of blessing to me.  I have time riding the Metra train into the Chicago Loop each morning to pray the Scriptural Rosary using those provided at the this link that I have bookmarked on my phone.
    Rainbow over Chicago taken through Metra Train window on evening commute
  • Finding out a friend, who battled against diagnosed infertility, is pregnant
  • Attending Mass today at Mundelein Seminary celebrated by Fr. Barron, and concelebrated by the priest that married my husband and I in the log chapel at Notre Dame 23 years ago.  Visiting with this priest and friend for an hour or so after Mass, and having him meet my youngest son.
  • My daughter doing well on the ACT and seeming to be qualified for 1/2 off tuition at many schools because of this and with option of attending local community/junior college for free as well.
  • Finding out that after our last month's witness for life visit at an abortuary in the Chicago Loop, that after we left a woman, to whom one of our girls had given a gift bag, came out in tears and told the sidewalk counselor that she was going to keep her baby.
  • My husband taking a subset of our children to Mass for two weeks in a row.  I am keeping quiet, and will delete this bullet from my blog after 3 days as I don't want this to end!
  • Getting a new laptop for work . . . I had to because my 7 year old one was costing me serious sleep and efficiency at my new job.  Still minor geek that I am, it is a blessing.
Yes, some of the blessings are huge, and some are just God smiling at me and answering my prayer to help me to grow in recollection - attention to the presence of God in my soul.  I really believe that I cannot be holy, cannot be transformed into the handmaiden of the Lord I want to be if I don't first learn to dwell in the Holy Trinity's love for me.  Great that St. Ignatius left us with a method to cultivate that . . . making a daily habit of recalling to mind the blessings of God.  I am not consistent in doing this nightly, but I do start any scripture meditation time with the BAKER method that Fr. Gaitley taught me in his book.  If you aren't doing this, I recommend it, as I do his book.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How is a Mother-in-Law like the Holy Spirit?

 
Every moment of our lives is permeated with the Presence that loves and bestows.  To live in faith, means to be able to see this loving and constantly bestowing Presence. . . . Every moment of our lives brings us His presence.  Every moment of your life is a moment of meeting with the Presence, that is loving you. . . . . God links grace to each moment, be it an easy or a difficult one. . . . everything that happens in your life, is linked with some kind of grace. . . . It is extremely important for you to believe in this constant Presence which manifests itself in various ways. . . . If you would believe that you are always immersed in the merciful love of God, who never abandons you, then it is certain that you would never fall.Everything that you experience is linked to the love of God who loves you, and to His desire for your good. (See Romans 8:28)  -- Father Tadeusz Dajczer in The Gift of Faith under "To Perceive the Loving Presence" in chapter 1.
Tout est grace.  Translated:  Everything is grace.  -- St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action. . . . The books the Holy Spirit is writing are living, and every soul a volume in which the divine author makes a true revelation of his word, explaining it to every heart, unfolding it in every moment.― Jean-Pierre de CaussadeThe Sacrament of the Present Moment 
Some moments are easier to perceive God's presence, in us and in those we love.  Moments like holding your newborn, or just a newborn, especially a newly baptized newborn.  Moments when we feel our hearts stirring within us (see Luke 24:32) while reading Scripture, or hearing the preaching of someone filled and in prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit.  Moments when we are blessed to experience the holy death of someone passing from this world into eternal life to behold forever the beautiful and glorious presence and to feel the embrace of our awesome and loving God.

Then there are the moments when those in our own homes or in our workplaces or in our churches or our childrens' schools or on the road to those places, do things or say things that evoke frustration, anger, even wrath.  Then do we sense God's presence?  Then do we perceive the loving, dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within our souls through the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism and confirmed in us by the grace of Confirmation or, in the case of non-Sacrament-receiving believers -- through the repentance and forgiveness of sins received through the "Sinner's Prayer", which may be equivalent to the Baptism of Desire (CCC #1259), or through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5)?

I don't.  I want to.  I am praying I will, but I don't.

This past Saturday night I had a little battle with my younger daughter.  There was a preceding battle, this past Friday morning, the second day of their private Christian school, when she was defiantly wearing something non-compliant with her school's dress code.  Actually both her shirt and her pants were against the rules.  The little battle lasted probably 20 minutes.  I'd tell her to change.  She would not.  I would express that she had to change, had to obey, had to follow the rules, and she would not.  I dressed her.  She got undressed and back into what she had been wearing.  I took away the shirt and hid it, she said she was just going to stay home from school.  Finally she did end up wearing a dress that was officially too short, but I let it go because at least it wasn't skin tight like the "jeggings" she had on.

Now on Saturday evening she was breaking her bedtime rule.  She is supposed to be in bed by 10 p.m.  She was not and because she was also late going to bed the night before and was up early, she was overtired.  She was fighting with her sister and was refusing to sleep either in her bunk bed or in my bed, since she shares the room with her sister.  I would not have it again.  Defiance.  Rebellion.  Disobedience.  Disregard for my parental authority in favor of her autonomy.  I was filled with anger and yes it was in the vicinity of rage.

She claimed her strained arm, injury of 1.5 months ago, was hurting, so I left the room and the confrontation with her to get her an ice pack, wrist brace, and ibuprofen.  My mother-in-law had been sleeping in the upstairs bedroom, but sometime during my elevated vocalization, and my daughter's crying, she woke up.

She came out of her darkened room into the hallway and grabbed my arms lovingly, gently, and said, "Colleen, can I help you?"

I brushed past her, shaking free of her hands, and said, "No.  I have to find her wrist brace.  Her wrist is hurting."

She said, "Fine," and left me alone.

So how is a Mother-in-Law or at least how was my mother-in-law in that moment like the Holy Spirit?

It is obvious to me after my morning meditation, that dovetails so nicely with my second read of the The Gift of Faith and the quote from St. Therese that was in a email from my parish priest this morning, as well as being included in the "To Perceive the Loving Presence" section of the The Gift of Faith.  The Holy Spirit has these little repetitions, and complementary sources of his teaching for me, and for many of us, because it takes this orchestration to make an impact on us.

My meditation today was on John 14:22-31 inclusive of the verses
23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 
25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 

Father Bartunek, in The Better Part provides food for meditation on these verses, of which I bolded the parts that were physically played out by mother-in-law last Saturday night:
The Holy Spirit is like our own personal trainer, but instead of honing our physique, he polishes our love, our holiness, our very hearts.  Unfortunately, we often forget about him.  He is polite, he knows he is only a guest, because even though he created us, he completely respects our freedom.  And so he waits for us to listen to him, to ask him for guidance and strength.  And if we listen, he will teach us, just as Christ taught his disciples during those years when they walked together through the hills of Galilee and Judah.
Then he provides a prayer for us to offer to our indwelling guest, the Holy Spirit of God:
Wherever I go, you are with me.  Whatever I do or say, you are with me.  Whatever I look at or think about, you are there within me.  I believe in you.  Yet I have to ask:  Why am I not more aware of you?  Grant me that grace, Lord --teach me never to walk alone.
I believe in you, Lord, but help me to believe more fully.  Help me to believe so completely that my life and yours become one.  In all my activities, conversations, and relationships, I want to live and communicate the joy and peace that only you can give.
My personal prayer:

Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit --- I trust in you!  I know that you have given me the gift of faith, the gift of loving you, and the holy desire to know, and love you with a purer heart, and to have the grace of unceasing recollection - attention to your indwelling Holy, and Loving presence in my soul.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for my mother-in-law!  Thank you for teaching me that in that moment she physically showed me, in a way my senses and memory could not dispute, a gentle, loving presence that wanted to help me.  And what did I do?  I pushed past her and refused the help.  I certainly didn't ask her for it.

In my anger, on the brink of rage, I did not in any moment come against the spirit of anger and disobedience that were active in the confrontation between me and my daughter . . . . anger on me, and disobedience on her.  Not to mention the selfishness involved in both of us wanting our way.  I am too immature and too lacking in the virtues of gentleness and self-control to succeed in moments like this, and yet I have the loving, gentle presence of God within me and I don't turn to you for help.  Thank you for the teaching, please help me to do better next time!  Please forgive me, and please do help me!

In Jesus's Most Holy Name, and in your name Yahweh Sabaoth, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, I ask these intentions, Amen.
If you would believe that you are always immersed in the merciful love of God, who never abandons you, then it is certain that you would never fall.  -- Father Tadeusz Dajczer in The Gift of Faith under "To Perceive the Loving Presence" in chapter 1.
If you have repented, and have experienced God's presence, and you are in a "state of grace" then you should be confident that the Holy Spirit is with you, and that you are immersed in the merciful love of God who never abandons you, even when you are sinning, and even when you have sinned.  What is affected if you are not in the state of grace, is your ability to perceive his holy, loving, life-giving, and wise presence.  What should you do if you don't think you are in the state of grace?  The Didache, an early Christian document written about 70 A.D. (70 years after Jesus was born, in the 1st Century) states regarding Holy Communion:
"Whosoever is holy [i.e., in a state of sanctifying grace], let him approach. Whosoever is not, let him repent (Didache 10). . . But first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one" (Didache 14). 
The Didache is only 99 cents on Kindle and takes less than an hour to read.  It is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  If you are Catholic and you want to grow into a state of unceasing recollection as I do, it helps to frequently receive the Sacrament of Confession.  For any Christian, Catholics and non-Sacramental believers, it helps to have frequent examinations of conscience and acts of repentance, rather than to walk our Christian life recipient of the cheap grace that includes only forgiveness of sins, but not the repentance that St. John the Baptist and Jesus preached.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost Of Discipleship

May we all be brought by the Holy Spirit, and by our docility to his teaching and internal transformation to unceasing attention to the fact that we are, at every moment--the good ones, the tense ones, every moment immersed in the merciful love of God, and sustained by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!  May this help us grow in the gift of peace that Jesus gave us, that we would trust in him and not let our hearts be troubled. (See and meditate on John 14!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guilt No More!

A few weeks ago I was assisting with video taping the testimony of a woman that aborted her second child.  I'll have the link to this video below.  She had been raised Catholic, actually in a Catholic orphanage, so she knew that abortion was the killing of a baby, and she had not been deceived that what was being aborted was pregnancy tissue, so she knew even as she drove there, waited in the waiting room and laid on the steel table as the procedure was done, that she was having her unborn baby killed.  She just thought there wasn't any other way.  She was divorced from her husband and she could barely support the first child they had together.

She mentioned there were no crisis pregnancy centers then, back in 1973.  There were no sidewalk counselors.  She wishes now that there were.

She says how her friends and even her ex-husband tried to cheer her up, from what followed: a very long lasting depression.  She would go out with friends drinking and such but essentially every night finished the same way, for 20 years, with her crying herself to sleep.

Not everyone with guilt from sin cries themselves to sleep, but there are some who do know this prison of guilt, sadness, and sorrow.

Some of us let our minds be taken back to our failings, when we hurt others, or simply repeated the first sin in the garden, believing a lie that we could know good from evil, and think and do what was pleasing, or expedient for the god of self rather than surrendering to the will of God, and falling at his feet as Mary did (see John 11:32), but instead deliberately choosing to do or to enable sin to happen.  Sin that caused pain for others, including the pain of the Savior during his passion.

There was something I learned at some point and then was rather clearly written about by St. Ignatius in his teachings on the discernment of spirits.  Dwelling in guilt is a state encouraged by evil spirits that want to keep us from the peace and joy, and abundant life that are Christ's gift to us.  He has already won the victory, and already suffered the penalty of our sins.  We can and should feel sorrow and regret for our sins and failings, but we should refuse to let them distract us from the goodness and love, the forgiveness and mercy, the healing that Christ wills for us. 

  • If something keeps us from rejoicing in our salvation (see Psalm 51:12) due to Christ's obedience and love,
  • If something keeps us from knowing the freedom that comes from surrendering our hearts daily and throughout the day to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit,
  • If something keeps us from the confident trust that no matter how badly we screwed up, how hurtful and damaging and far reaching the effects are from our sin, the truth is we are loved, and blessed,

then that something is not from God! 

That something is being orchestrated by those fallen spirits that followed Lucifer out of heaven and are at war with the children of God as described in Revelation 12.  That something is keeping us from a fuller experience of the love of God so necessary for us to grow in faith and to bear fruit for our Lord and King.

Yes, we are weak, we are selfish, we are proud in our intellectual myopia and encouraged by the secular, moral relativism of our peers and society.  Yes, we have been given much, the Gospel has been read to us and hopefully preached to us in words and by the example of those God puts into our lives, and yet we sinned and continue to sin.

But the thing I am trying to get those of you to know, those of you like Maria in the video to know, is how much Jesus truly loves you.  He suffered not just out of obedience but to pay the price for my sin and yours, no matter how serious, how grave, how undoable, how awful that sin and its effects are. 

Maria said at one point in filming the video that she still feels the guilt from the abortion.  I asked her does she mean guilt or regret, because I think that is a key part of her testimony.  She agreed it was regret now, not the guilt that imprisoned her for so many years.  She went on to explain that when she responded to an altar call the counselor told her all her sins were forgiven.  Her question was whether the sin of abortion had been forgiven.  And the counselor told her, "All of your sins."  This sin of her abortion had been confessed many times, but she still had that question if it had been forgiven.

Now, she believed God forgave her, but it was still many more years before she forgave herself.  She still regrets the abortion as she thinks about how that baby is the missing sibling in her older daughter's and younger daughter's lives and the missing aunt or uncle to her grandchildren.  They needed that person in their lives and they are missing out because she had the baby killed.

So, the regret lingers and surfaces.  Still, she is free now.  What does that mean?  She describes it as finally accepting that Christ's sacrifice was to bear the guilt of her sin, and accepting and believing and trusting in his love meant forgiving herself too.  She says the door to leave her prison was open the entire time, but it was years after responding to the altar call that she finally walked through that door and accepted the healing.

Only this past year did she begin speaking about her abortion.  She told the leader of our Prolife club at school, and then was asked by him to tell her testimony in the high school chapel.  She then began attending our Saturday "Witness for Life" visits to two abortion clinics in the Chicago area.  Her granddaughter, that she is raising as her own child, comes with her.  You'll see her in the video too.

  • Are you prone to experience guilt for your past sins and do you want to be free of it?
  • What is keeping you in that prison of guilt and shame? 
  • Do you want to be free of it?
Recently I noticed a verse reference written in my daughter's yearbook by a friend.  I wonder if her friend wrote it there because she knows we are Catholic, and she is taught that Catholics, just like Martin Luther, are paralyzed in their guilt.  This is why they use the word "Liberty" in the naming of their schools and churches.  The verse really provokes much thought:

12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

First thing that hits me is this is in the OT - the Old Testament.  It isn't Ephesians or Romans or Galatians.  This is back during the time of King David.  Yet here is God saying he removes our transgressions from us.  Now, in the light of Salvation History, we know he does this through God becoming incarnate of the Virgin after she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and then as the Lamb of God, (prefigured by the sacrificing of unblemished lambs exemplified in the sacrifice of Abel, later the sacrifice of Abraham in place of Isaac, by all the Israelites the night of the Passover, and then established for the Israelites by Moses at the command of God) suffered torture, persecution, bore the punishment in his soul for our sins as he hung powerless on the cross, and died.

You know what?  God wants us free.  He loves us and wants us to walk out of the prison of guilt, and jump into his arms like St. Therese described so beautifully:

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love," has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus." The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness. (Guy Gaucher, The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.2)
God taught me more about this through my youngest two children.  My daughter will misbehave in some way, and it soon becomes a battle of wills.  She stays entrenched in it, gets angry and pouty, and will not accept a hug or anything to try to bring it to a quicker and happier end.  Eventually, usually after she gets a nap, or some other means of a longer timeout, she does accept the hug, and all is better.

My son, on the other hand, as soon as he does something he knows is wrong and he shouldn't have done -- could be hurting me, his sister, wrecking something in the house, he very soon, almost immediately, realizes what this has done to our relationship, and gets very sorrowful and wants a hug and kiss. 

Now some of you may be saying my younger son has me wrapped around his finger, but let's get back to my point!  He is very confident in my love for him, and my forgiveness when he comes running into my arms.

That is what I think Jesus meant about becoming like children, and is the core of St. Therese's spirituality, that she learned as a child jumping on her earthly father's lap, "Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father's knee and tell him what marks I had had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten...I needed this sort of encouragement so much."

2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:2-3)

So if the devil, the evil spirits want to keep you from jumping into Jesus's arms, and thanking him for his victory over evil, over sin, and for bearing our guilt, do you want to do what they want, or do you want to walk out the door of the prison of guilt that has been open for you all this time?

Walk through, and experience the lightness and joy that are yours, because of the love of your God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

My words are not as helpful as meditating on scripture.  As Jesus so perfectly put it:

"If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free."  (John 8:31-32)

So let's start now, and please join me in committing to read the Bible every day!  This is what Billy Graham would say when looking into the TV camera during his crusades, right after leading people in the sinner's prayer.  "Read your Bible every day!"

Please pray to the Holy Spirit, and slowly read and absorb the love and truth in Psalm 103 below.

Here's quick prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Come Holy Spirit!  Come at the most powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved spouse.

10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
15As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
21Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
22Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103)
 
Receive the unfathomable compassion, and mercy, and blessings of our God---Sovereign, Holy, and Loving!  This means forgiving yourself too!  Wouldn't it grieve our Lord whose compassion and sacrifice of the Lamb of God have made you free?  Jump into his arms, just like the beloved child that you are. 

When you-know-who encourages you to indulge in guilt, tell him, as Jesus did:

23“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Matthew 16:23)

I think Mary's recent post at the Beautiful Gate also helps us learn the true humility, and peace that comes from trusting that the Holy Spirit is working on us according to God's will and timing. 

Here is the video testimony:
If you can't see the video below, please try this link to view it on YouTube:  http://youtu.be/Z7NS8KNelRI



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Recollection

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right* spirit within me. 
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.  (Psalm 51)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: July is my Favorite Month

(1)
July is the month the Church has designated to devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  You can read more about this important and salvific devotion at this post on the Community of Catholic Bloggers.
(2)
We had a brief family vacation to New Glarus, Wisconsin.  Here are some scenes from that trip:





(3)
Enjoyed seeing my son make a tree swing from a branch: 



video

(4)
The number of students participating in our twice a month Witness for Life events has dropped off a bit in the summer.  Think part of it is the sleep-over parties and such that have them going to sleep between 2 and 4 in the morning.  Still it is a continued blessing to be part of this as I wrote about earlier in the month in this post.  Well the majority of the post is about the Name of the Lord, but there is a story in the midst of it about a young woman that was driven to a Chicago Abortion clinic for a surgical abortion and she would not go in, to the anger of her mother who drove her there.  The young woman was stuck without a ride home and I was blessed to talk with her for a while.  She is hoping for a boy!  It goes to a point I made in a post once that while "choice" is the slogan, there are many brought into the clinic under pressure, coercion by parents, step-parents, grandparents, boyfriends.  Some are in the midst of suicidal depression.  That occurred at the Planned Parenthood in Aurora on June 22.  A young woman texted her boyfriend, "I want this baby inside of me killed, and then I want to kill myself."  You would think the Planned Parenthood "counselor" would find it unethical to allow this woman to sign and have a life ending "procedure" in this state of mind.  Unfortunately, I don't know what happened next, but I think the woman was allowed to have that child inside of her killed despite her being of unsound mind.
(5)
Here are two videos put together for our school's pro-life club. They might not be viewable on iOS devices.
  
If you can't see the video, try this link: http://youtu.be/ejofaurW_i8

 
If you can't see the video, try this link:  http://youtu.be/wfb7FdStCH4

In case anyone wants to make a small donation to help with gas and getting more signs, here is a link - please select the "Live Pro Life Group".

(6)

I was blessed to take part in the Pro-life Action League's Face the Truth Tour.  Here is a video that explains what the tour's purpose and methods are about:
My husband encouraged me to assist with our school's Pro-life club, but he is not a fan of the graphic pictures campaign.  The campaign occurs once a year, and I remember when I had young children and the pictures were on display in the Wisconsin Dells where we were vacationing.  I looked but I told my children not to look.  I was not going to take my two older children unless they wanted to go.

If you can't see the video, try this link:  http://youtu.be/-UT5zSsHxA8
I participated in 5 of the sites during this year's tour.  Personally I experienced feeling a bit nauseated during the first event I held a sign, to then arguing for their importance during an event in front of the Art Institute of Chicago three events later.  Here's what I posted on Facebook after the Chicago events: 
Great experience participating in the Face the Truth Tour today. I still am disgusted by these graphic pictures but you'd be surprised how many thank us...even buying cold water for us, for showing the truth of what happens to an unborn baby in an abortion. I had really mixed feelings about doing this but when you think most know about Hitler and the Holocaust because they saw pictures of thousands of emaciated dead bodies stacked like wood, but few know that Stalin killed 10 times as many because they never saw pictures. Attending a Ukrainian Byzantine Church, and only learning after attending there of the 25-30 million Ukrainians, starved by Stalin, convinces me showing pictures of the truth is critical. How do folks vote for politicians who call crushed skulls and limbs torn from baby bodies without anesthetic women's health and a reproductive right? I hope they don't after they see the pictures. One black gentleman said our signs just turned him Pro-life. Another said seeing the signs 13 years ago (during the 1st Face the Truth events) saved his daughter from being aborted. He couldn't believe he and his girlfriend were planning to do that (what was portrayed on the signs) to their beloved daughter. Praise God for giving me the opportunity to participate. God bless all those who organize and participate and all that support us.

This isn't for everyone, and personally, I still think it is most important to reach the women going into the clinics by being there praying and sidewalk counseling, and by contributing to the funds of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and those that provide residency and medical care to women in crisis pregnancies.  As the woman who argued with me repeated (and to which I did not disagree), "You reach people through love."  Those women walking in need to know that God loves them, and that we his children will provide evidence of his love and care so that the woman and her child can experience that love through our gifts.

It is important though.  It is just once a year too, and these pictures do stay with people to be a counter to the lies of the other side. 
If you want to donate to provide water to those participating and gas for the trucks carrying the signs around, they welcome even a donation of $5, here is the link.

(Only read this next paragraph if you are able to stand graphic description of the most horrific of the pictures displayed)

The most awful image displayed in the tour is that of a severed head of an infant.  There were two of these images about 20 feet from each other on the opposite side of the street from me in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In between there, three counter-protestors had a spray-painted sheet that said "Abortion On Demand Without Apology".  They also chanted this.  As shocking as the graphic images are, to see those words---"without apology" and hear the chant between two images of a baby's head, with hair on it (must have been 22+ weeks I think), with the brain stem there, but the lower jaw not - that awful image of the reality of late-term abortion, and then to hear "without apology" . . . well it is inhumane, and perhaps, if you are "in the light" (see 1 John 1:7) evidence of the power of darkness and what happens when a person's heart is hardened.
(7)
My favorite Bible Verses this week, as I was preparing to go participate in the Face the Tour Events:

"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

"But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 


 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing."
(1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, 8-11)

Join Jen and friends for other Quick Takes!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Name of the Lord

Jesus taught, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . . but seek first his (your heavenly Father's) kingdom and his righteousness . . . . Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you will get. . . . Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."  (Matthew 6:25a, 33, 7:1-2, 24-27)

This past Sunday the Lord impressed upon me the need to get to know him and his name more and to make that name of his known.  The scripture he led me to seemed to indicate to me that talking, writing on this blog, in any way that causes hearers, readers to forget God's name is a way of leading people astray.  The scriptures I was reading were from Jeremiah.  It was God's word towards self-declared prophets, but still I found some food for thought in these.

How many times had I read something in the Bible about God's name, wondered: what is up with God's name?; what is God's name?; and then did nothing to seek for the answers.  So first the convicting readings, and then the answers.  Emphasis added by me.

"I did not send these prophets, yet they ran!  I did not speak to them, yet they prophesized!  How long are there to be those among the prophets who prophesy lies and are in fact prophets of their own delusions.  They are doing their best, by means of the dreams they keep telling each other, to make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name in favor of Baal.  I have a quarrel with prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, Yahweh declares, who recount them, and lead my people astray by their lies and their bragging. I certainly never sent them, or commissioned them, and they serve no purpose for this people, Yahweh declares."  (Jeremiah 23:26-27, 21, 32)

"And let him who receives a word from me, deliver my word accurately!  Had they been present in my council, they could have proclaimed my words to my people, and turned them from their evil way and from the wickedness of their deeds!"  (Jeremiah 23:28b, 22)

Humility is something that we can learn from the Lord and only grow in by the grace of God.  After all pride, which in essence is idolatry, was the cause of the original sin, and its residual is still strong part of our human nature now.  I think the way the Holy Spirit preserved Mary as sinless was to teach her early about the primacy of being humble, and clothing her in grace to perfectly grow in this virtue! 

Some of us, me for example, require more of God's grace to grow in the virtue of humility than others.  Many saints have mentioned how humility is primary in order to grow in intimacy with God.  I think humility is also necessary in order to hear and be led by God in whatever way he chooses to communicate with us.  Studying and meditating on the name of the Lord gave me a peacefulness in my soul.  I started a Bible study on the name of the Lord Sunday, and I'll probably be still in that study until the day when I can no longer read or listen to the Bible.

Just reading the passages on the name of God turned into praising God.  Praising God and humbling oneself before God in praise is unfailing way of defeating anxiousness, and any efforts by the unseen evil spirits to distract me from my God-given purpose in this life and the next.  Before I go to those verses, I want to relay what happened last Saturday at the Witness to Life at an abortion clinic in downtown Chicago.

I was blessed to actually get to talk with one of the young women that was brought to the abortion clinic for a surgical abortion.  I've been going twice a month for over 1.5 years and this was the first time I've had such a conversation.  I totally missed her, and was distracted by some other dramas that were occurring around the clinic.  Another counselor noticed her standing alone under a tree and went up to talk with her.  She needed a phone to call for her step mother, because her mother had brought her to the clinic demanding that she have an abortion.  It was an iphone 5 that I particularly like, so I told her, "I am not going to listen to your conversation, but I need to stay close you know, because it is my phone."

I didn't try to listen, but I did hear a few things and in general was hearing the emotion in the call.  The girl was upset and on brink of tears several times.  She mentioned that her mom was calling her names as part of the pressure to have the surgery.  She needed someone to get her out of there.  After she was done she stepped over to return my phone.  Neither of us moved.

I found out that she was homeless, just graduated, played small forward in basketball, and was pregnant.  Her mom was pressuring her to do this, and she didn't want to.  I said many things to try to connect with her, and I was very nervous the entire time.  Some things I said were probably unhelpful "Oh, I played guard because I was considerably shorter than you."  Something I said that I think was helpful was, "You are God's Beloved child, and you do not need to dwell on anyone calling you a slut or saying mean things in order to get you do this.  Your baby within you is God's Beloved child too.  You are beautiful, and I am sure this baby is going to be beautiful too."

She said, "I hope it is going to be a boy."

Me, very encouraged, "Trust God to provide for you and this baby.  God's providence is like a parachute.  Until you pull the string you have no idea how well it works.  I think you know God, and I encourage you to call this number (pointing to the center address and phone number on the sheet).  They have residential care, and funds to provide for you during your pregnancy and for caring for the baby after.  Also, please find a Bible read, and pray.  Trust God." 

I noticed I was nervous up until the time I mentioned the unseen, but most important reality, "You are God's Beloved child."

Now for the scriptures -

"God is both refuge and strength for us,
a help always ready in trouble;
Yahweh Sabaoth is with us,
our citadel, the God of Jacob.
Be still and acknowledge that I am God,
supreme over nations,
supreme over the world." (Psalms 46:1, 7, 10)

* citadel:  fortress, stronghold; Sabaoth:  of Hosts, as in angelic army inclusive of powers, principalities and all the other orders of angels.

"Blessed are you, Yahweh our God
from everlasting to everlasting,
and blessed be your glorious name
surpassing all blessing and praise!

You, Yahweh, are the one, only Yahweh,
you have created the heavens,
the heaven of heavens and all their array,
the earth and all it bears,
the seas and all they hold.
To all of them you give life,
and the array of heaven worships you." (Nehemiah 9:5b-6)

"Alleluia!

Praise, servants of Yahweh,
praise the name of Yahweh.

Blessed be the name of Yahweh,
henceforth and for ever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
praised be the name of Yahweh!

Supreme over all nations is Yahweh,
supreme over the heavens his glory.
Who is like Yahweh our God?
His throne is set on high" (Psalms 113:1-5)

"But from farthest east to farthest west my name is great among the nations, and everywhere incense and a pure gift are offered to my name, since my name is great among the nations, says Yahweh Sabaoth." (Malachi 1:11) 

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130?-200?) explains that this is the Eucharistic sacrifice foretold (The New Jerusalem Bible, Saints Devotional Edition, p. 1197).  For indeed when the pure, immaculate and holy body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are offered from the farthest east, to the farthest west, incense and a pure gift are offered to God's name.

What is God's name?  The Blue Letter Bible has a great page on the Old Testament names of God.  Yahweh Sabaoth is used over 285 times in the Old Testament and especially in Malachi.  Over 43.6% of the verses in Malachi reference the name of God as Yahweh Sabaoth.  Why?

From the English Standard Version Study Bible, p. 1775:
There is no greater comfort than the fact that the Lord has his invincible heavenly armies standing at the ready.  It is like the comfort that Elisha prayed for his servant at Dothan when they were surrounded by the Syrian armies: 

"'O Lord (Adonai), please open his eyes that he may see.' So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17).  Perhaps it is like the comfort felt by Jesus before the cross:  "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). 

Have you ever read 2 Maccabees?  It is an exciting book of the Bible.  In it Judas Maccabeus leads a rebellion against the Hellenists that were oppressing the Israelites, he said, "They may put their trust in their weapons and their exploits . . . but our confidence is in almighty God, who is able with a single nod to overthrow both those marching on us and the whole world with them." (2 Maccabees 8:18)  Judas and his followers humbled themselves before God, prostrating themselves in the Temple, and begging for his mercy and kindness, "they and the populace with them begged the Lord with lamentation and tears to send a good angel to save Israel." (2 Maccabees 11:6)  What happened? 

"They were still near Jerusalem when a rider attired in white appeared at their head, brandishing golden weapons.  With one accord they all blessed the God of mercy, and found themselves filled with such courage . . . " (2 Maccabees 11:8-9a)

I found this beautiful explanation of God's name of Yahweh Sabaoth:

The name of God is "the God of Hosts".
"Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of hosts" is one of the frequent titles or names of God in the Old Testament. It is cited 260 times according to one scholar, 285 times according to another (cf. Theol. Dictionary of the OT [German edition], 6, 876-892). Though used less in the historical books, it is found very frequently in the prophets.
"It is the most sublime and magnificent proper name of God" (ibid., 692). 

Every day at Holy Mass we call upon God by this name, uniting ourselves with the holy angels when we sing: "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth–Lord God of hosts", as it was formerly translated.
I pray this mediation on God's name was a blessing to you as it was to me.
Three more scriptures, for the road:
"Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us."  John 17:11b
"The name of Yahweh is a strong tower;
the upright runs to it and is secure." Proverbs 18:10
"And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael (God's champion whose name means 'who is like God') with his angels attacked the dragon.  The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.  The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angles hurled down with him.  Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, 'Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now the accuser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.  They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life."  (Revelation 12: 7-11)