Tuesday, May 23, 2017

If I Can't Have You

Do you remember the movie Saturday Night Fever? Well, if you were around during the disco era, no doubt you know every song from this movie, word for word. One of my favorites is If I Can't Have You by Yvonne Elliman. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Don't know why I'm surviving every lonely day
When there's got to be no chance for me
My life would end and it doesn't matter how I cry
My tears of love are a waste of time
If I turn away am I strong enough to see it through
Go crazy is what I will do

If I can't have you, I don't want nobody baby
If I can't have you ah ah, I can't have you
I don't want nobody baby, if I can't have you ah ah

What human being hasn't loved someone, hoping for the same love in return? Who hasn't felt the grief or pain of loneliness when something seemingly secure goes away? Fear of the unknown washes over us. How will we cope? Alas, with time all wounds heal. Fear of the unknown becomes acceptance. So we shouldn't be surprised in today's Gospel (John 16:5-11) when the disciples hear of Jesus' impending departure. I think they were beginning to feel a little separation anxiety:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”

In Volume Four, God the Father asks us to trust Him. And, when we trust fully, He can move mountains:

"You see, My children in the world, I use each one of you to bring Me and present Me to others. If you are respectful of Me, if you acknowledge My dominion over you and your world, I am with you. In this way, I can be brought everywhere. I can be present to any soul who is with you. I can manifest Myself in many ways. I manifest Myself in your patience. I manifest Myself in your love for another when you ordinarily would find it difficult to love that person. I am present in your smile, in your speech, and I am present in your decisions, which is very important. So you do not see Me, it is true, but you will feel the difference if you go either from serving Me to not serving Me, or from not serving Me to serving Me. Serve Me now and let us no longer have any lapses in service. Remain with Me, your heavenly Father, who seeks to direct all that has an impact on you. I will bring every event in your life and turn it into something that benefits your soul and gives you eternal satisfaction and joy. But not all in my life is good, you are thinking. I know that, My child. That is why you need Me. I can turn the pain, the anguish, the mistakes and grief, into strength, wisdom, patience, and joy."

Lay apostles, we are in a time of great graces flowing from heaven. God is giving us specific ways to ignite the fire of the Holy Spirit within our hearts in the Volume Four quote above. He's asking for our service. He's asking us to love others in words and actions, emanating His Love for all His children. Let's work toward the goal of being able to see Him Face to face one day. And grateful we did the best we could for Him. Because, if I can't have Him, I don't want nobody!

Thank you, Lord, for reassurance I can have You 24/7, knowing any outcome is Your Will.

God bless,

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gospel Words for Today: Love One Another

A little over 5 years ago I wrote a blog post called Grace Under Fire. That day was a rough one for me. On the other hand, it was the day I knew, without a doubt, I was a true Lay Apostle of Jesus Christ the Returning King. It was a day where I responded to a verbal attack with humility and most importantly, I didn't respond emotionally. The old Bonnie would have come out swinging. Since that day, I haven't stopped praying for this person. I knew he was under a lot of stress and pressure, and taking it out on me would be safe considering I have a pretty high tolerance for bad behavior. I am happy to say Jay and I are friends with him and his wife today. When we respond with love of neighbor instead of reacting to an outburst hurled our way, it is amazing what God can do with that love!

Todays Gospel (John 15:12-17) provides the key ingredient of a true Christian:

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Today's quote from Anne a lay apostle's book Climbing the Mountain is a little on the long side, but so critical in understanding those who lash out at us and how important our prayers are for their souls:

"Clearly, the love of Christ is meant to be shared. After the experience of heaven, I can see that the Kingdom of God is made up of souls who love each other. If Christ is in each one of us, and this is of course what we believe as Christians, then we must venerate Christ in every soul. How do we do that?

We do that with respect and gentleness. Some might say, “Yes, this may be true but I see souls in error, in mortal sin, living far outside of the heavenly Kingdom.” Well, dear fellow apostles, this is when the call to treat them as Christ is at its most profound. If Christ has indeed been driven out of a soul, through serious sin and a spirit of rebellion in that sin, then the call to illustrate our unity with Christ is compelling. How does Christ treat that soul? How does Christ view that soul? I will tell you.

Christ does not glance at a soul and see the sin, although He is acutely aware of the sin. Christ glances at a soul and sees the wound that both caused the sin and was worsened by the sin. So in order for the Kingdom to come, and it must and it will, we must treat each other as Christ would.

Sometimes a soul living outside of the Kingdom is bitter. This bitterness is like a sore. When a soul in bitterness views Christ in us, it can be like salt in the wound or sore because our unity with Christ highlights his isolation from Him. This is good. The soul then comes closer to an understanding of what it lacks. Our experience of this may not be pleasant. It may be necessarily painful because in its pain his soul may strike out at us. This can be understood as an almost instinctual lashing out or crying out in the distress of his disconnectedness from Christ. We must accept these strikes as beneficial penance and part of standing with Christ as a companion on the Way of the Cross.

To clarify, I am driving in traffic and I make a mistake, perhaps, or commit a deed that inconveniences someone else. I give the other driver an apologetic wave. He responds by swearing at me, shouting and threatening. This is shocking for a holy soul.

We must offer this to Jesus. We must bring that soul to Jesus in prayer and petition. Our prayer will obtain critical graces for that soul. We must look at this person and see the wound, the sore.

To be more specific to the call to bring Jesus Christ to souls directly, consider a soul who is estranged from the Kingdom. Perhaps it is a family member or neighbor. It is possible that he may be unkind to us because our holiness is an irritant to him and to his wound. Is it then acceptable to be unkind in return? No, this is not acceptable for an apostle of Jesus Christ who seeks to bring His love to them. Remember that it was AFTER the Crucifixion that the Centurion said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” That soul only saw Christ through the manner in which Jesus accepted suffering from the offender’s hands. Note this parallel.

A soul may be tormenting us, but for this soul to experience Christ, we must accept it as Christ would. This should be in flashing red lights.

We may be praying for this soul and beseeching heaven for the conversion of this soul. So we must not complain at a little suffering for this soul, particularly if it comes from the hand of that same soul.

It helps to examine our motives. Do we want this soul to be saved for the sake of the soul and for the consolation and glory of Jesus Christ? Or do we want this soul to be saved so that the soul will treat us better and make our life easier? I think perhaps it can be a bit of both and this is acceptable. But as we begin to lean more to the benefit of both the soul and the Kingdom, we will become more willing to accept the occasional bad treatment for the purpose of the greater good, which is the salvation of the soul and the consolation of Christ, as well as for the benefit of the Kingdom."

Lay apostles, choose to love those who seem unlovable. Choose to be the light instead of the darkness. Choose humility over pride. With Jesus, anything is possible!

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to love when faced with adversity. Help me to always keep my focus on You!

God bless,

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gospel Word for Today: Joy

A few years ago our family went to the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater to see The Music Man. Believe it or not, I was the only one out of the six of us who had seen the movie! Grant it, our girls and son-in-law were all under 30 at the time, so no surprise. But my darling husband had no clue what it was about! My mom loved musicals, so I even knew the words to a few of the songs. The song Shipoopi was the biggest hit for my family as anything with the word "poopi" (in any form) will remind us all of my mother and her use of that word! It was such a joy-filled night, all of us singing in the car on the way home. We are connected. Not only by blood, but by love, laughter, and faith. Staying connected with our Father in heaven is what binds us all here on earth. Connect with Him first . . . then everything else falls into place.

Today's Gospel (John 15:9-11) is the starting point in our journey toward heaven . . . live your life with joy, connected to God at all times:

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

In Volume One, our Blessed Mother encourages us to focus on our families and find joy in our time with them:

"I want my children to begin detaching from the world. To do this, children, you must begin limiting the amount of time you spend watching television. There is no question that television has lured souls into a false world that distorts their view of reality. Very few programs depict characters who are appropriate role models for children of the light. Guidance will not be found on television and in many instances, children are misled and damaged from exposure. My children, also limit your time shopping. Buy necessities and keep your focus to family and duty. Live a healthy life, limiting entertainment. Opt for prayer and reflection. Soon you will not miss these things and you will correctly count them as so many nothings. Spend time with your family, walking, talking, and enjoying those things created by God. Set an example of quietness. Study the saints and the lives of holy souls. You have a great many spiritual comrades and your number increases by the hour. Truly, you will begin to see this, and it will strengthen you. Bloom where you are planted, little soul, unless Jesus directs otherwise."

Lay apostles, take a moment to look at your life so far. Are you estranged from your parents? Your children? An old friend? If you answered yes, then take a look at your connection with Christ. Is it first and foremost? Probably not. Choose to be connected with Him today. Then think about those other relationships. Love as He loves us.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith and the amazing connection I have with my family. The closer I get to You, the more connected I feel to others.

God bless,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gospel Word for Today: Remain

There is a Wilson-Phillips song called Hold On that came out in 1990.  It was the year I decided to pursue my BSN, was pretty much a single parent of three girls, my mother was preparing to move to Kansas so I could be a full-time student, and I acquired part-time employment on a locked psychiatry unit for some nursing experience. I remember driving to clinicals at 5am blasting Hold On, wondering how I was going to juggle so many balls without dropping one. I held on day after day, doing the best I could.  My faith in God, and the lyrics in the chorus of this song, gave me hope there was light at the end of the tunnel that year:

Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

Guess what?   Things did and do eventually go my way (well, His way!) . . . despite chaos popping up every now and then.  The point is, today may seem dark and stormy, but hold on for one more day. Remain centered in each day, not the future, not the past. Remember to call on Jesus when you need a little encouragement in the hope department. He is ready, willing and able to send the graces you need to wake up tomorrow and guide you to greener pastures.

In today's Gospel (John 15:1-8), Jesus asks us to remain focused on Him:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

In Anne a lay apostle's book The Mist of Mercy, Jesus assures us by following Him today, He will see to our service tomorrow:

“My little ones see My plan for them in the present moment. At times My little ones underestimate how I intend to use them in the future. This is acceptable, of course, because it is best if a serving apostle remains focused on the day in which he finds himself. Let Me assure you, though, that the level of service I can gain from you tomorrow and in every tomorrow that I grant you, is directly affected by the level of cooperation I gain from you today. If you serve Me in completeness today, you can be assured that I am preparing you for even greater service tomorrow. It is all about practice, after all. You must practice being holy. My dear friends, My apostles, do not be afraid of tomorrow, regardless of what occurs today. My plan is detailed and accounts for everything. I will care for My beloved friends and their loved ones. I am God. I am all powerful. You cannot place too much trust in Me because I will always outperform your greatest expectations. Serve completely in today, My friends, and I will use you even more effectively tomorrow. Trust your Jesus. I will protect you.”

Yes, Jesus outperforms all my greatest expectations.  So, lay apostles, hold on for one more day.  Remain steadfast in your faith. Go to Adoration.  Pray the Rosary. Read a Volume or Heaven Speaks booklet. Jesus is waiting for you . . .

Thank you, Lord, for inviting me to an intimate relationship with You through the daily Bible readings and the Direction for Our Times apostolate.  Continue to guide my service to You in the right direction, come tomorrow.

God bless,