Friday, August 17, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Divorce Does Not Mean Failure as a Christian

About 6 years ago I wrote the following blog post about divorce. The response was overwhelming, to say the least. The nastiness with which a few attacked was a shocker to an unseasoned writer back then. But the love and support from the majority of respondents was humbling. I am an imperfect person striving to be who Christ desires me to be. And, since this blog post in 2012, I am stronger, braver, and detached from negative comments when I speak my truth. I figure the attacker is fighting some kind of spiritual warfare and all I can do is pray for them. I also believe God wanted me to see that marriage is good, using Divine Intervention by placing Jay in my path! I am truly a blessed woman whose second half of life is filled with better and more God-centered decision-making skills! I am truly saved.

Divorced . . . But It Doesn't Define Me

Divorced once, what a shame.  Divorced twice, well . . . not something I want to reveal to the world.  Alas, the fact remains I am divorced twice.  I am not proud of this and wish it wasn't a reality. In fact, I used to cringe when people asked about my marital status.  I don't cringe anymore. As a matter of fact, if the situation merits, I divulge this little tidbit up front. Within the first 5 minutes of meeting Jay and finding out he was Catholic, I leaned over and told him he should know my situation and asked if it mattered to him.  He responded by saying, "Is this the same Bonnie from the two previous marriages or a better version of Bonnie who has learned lessons and taken time for some spiritual healing?" Wow, huh? The thing is, divorce doesn't define who I am, just my journey. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for the lessons I've learned about myself through the divorces.  A few days ago Jay shared with me someone told him to look at exes as teachers, not enemies. I love this because after all is said and done, God is affectionately supplying necessary circumstances which will lead us to Him and our reliance on His graces to become whole again. Some of us have harder heads than others requiring desperate measures on His part.  Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to see the Light.

Today's Gospel (Matthew 19:3-12) is read in almost every Christian wedding ceremony. If only everyone listening took it to heart, divorce would be less common:

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate." They said to him, "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?" He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

The following quote from Anne a lay apostle’s book Climbing the Mountain gave me (and continues to give me) immense comfort going through my last divorce when I struggled with feeling like a failure:

“Who can turn away from the love of Christ? Jesus loves with such acceptance. Living in unity with Jesus is like having the most perfect friend. He will never judge us harshly. Jesus sees our motives and understands that often we fail as the result of the wounds that have been inflicted on us. A treasured friend is this way and helps us to deal with our mistakes charitably because the close friend has been with us in our past and views us as a whole, made up of a lifetime of experiences. A treasured friend can usually guess what we will do in a given situation and this is the same with Jesus. Jesus allows us to be tried and He allows us to fail, often so that we will learn.”

Divorcing or divorced lay apostles, you can survive the aftermath of detachment from your marriage. No one (I pray!) commits to marriage with divorce in mind.  Most importantly, remember divorce is a two-way street. Don't focus on the wrongdoing of your ex-spouse. When you discover the part you played in the demise, no matter how big or small, write it down. Pray about it.  Do a lot of spiritual reading.  Work on creating a better version of yourself.  We are all destined to fail once in a while. Thank God He is kind and merciful!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to fail. I know I had to experience the things I have in order to grow closer to You and find the love of my life, Jay.

God bless,
Bonnie

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

What exactly is the "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary?" The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines it as "The dogma which recognizes the Blessed Virgin Mary's singular participation in her Son's Resurrection by which she was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when the course of her earthly life was finished."  Can you imagine what Mary must have felt knowing she carried Our Savior within her womb? A few words come to mind . . . humility, love, thankfulness, with a little bit of overwhelmed thrown in. God chooses wisely, lay apostles. Beginning with Mary, He knows exactly who He needs to carry messages of salvation to the world. We have been blessed over the years by the humility of our visionaries who have said "yes" to spreading God's love and words to a world in desperate need of salvation. Thank you, Mother Mary, for saying "yes" to God. And, thank you, Anne, for your "yes," sacrificing for Our Savior by giving up a normal life.  

Todays Gospel (Luke 1:39-56) shows the humility and obedience of Our Lady:

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

In Volume 8, Jesus reminds us how His Mother suffers as He does when souls reject Him:

"Dear children, just as I suffer at the distance many souls have placed between themselves and heaven, Our Mother also suffers. She, more than anyone, shared My Passion. She now shares My anguish at the loss of so many souls. I feel revulsion at the sins of this world. Our Mother shares this revulsion. You must understand that when you are glimpsing My heart, and My feelings, you are also glimpsing the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This precious and pure little heart beats with love and tenderness for each of us. Every soul is precious to Mary. I thank you for all of the little sacrifices that console Me. I want you to know that each prayer and sacrifice given for Me also consoles Our Mother. Great joy comes to Mary when souls give thanks and praise to Me. Truly, if you are devoted to My Mother, and I want you to be, work for Me and she will be happy with you. She seeks only My will and her active and powerful intercession in your world furthers My will in a spectacular fashion. She is the woman clothed with the sun, capable of vanquishing the enemy."

Lay apostles, Our Lady is a true intercessor for us on earth. My mother always said to say a prayer to Mary when in need . . . for what Son doesn't listen to His Mother? And remember, sometimes what we pray for may take a little longer to achieve . . . God's time, right? And, sometimes His answer is "no" for our own good. 

Thank you, Lord, for the intercession and motherly love of Our Lady You allow us. You are a Good Son!

God bless,
Bonnie

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Don't ask me why the song "Changes" by David Bowie came to mind after reading the Gospel today (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14)! As I sit here contemplating the words below spoken by Christ, my thoughts are overwhelmed with our grandchildren . . . especially our youngest additions Christian and Savannah (both about to turn 4 next month)! The first child is definitely a big change . . . but the second child, well, it's all about time management. Change is good. Upon occasion, the changes we need to make elicit groans of growing pains . . . getting out of our comfort zone to become wiser, holier. Changes Jesus asks of us require being childlike, not childish. It's time, lay apostles, to see our faith through the eyes of a child. It's time to change behaviors which lead us away from Christ.

Gospel:


The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

In the October Monthly Message, Jesus asks us not to fear change:

"Dearest apostles, so brave, I am with you. I do not tell you that you will be overcome. I do not tell you that you have been given work that is impossible for you to complete. Those messages do not come from Me. Instead, I tell you that you will persevere and ultimately triumph. Our mission of mercy does not falter, even though the steps of my little apostles sometimes falter. This mission pushes through the world with a steadiness that defies all attempts against it. My apostles experience fear at times. This is not a problem for Me or this mission. Fear is to be expected. Bring your fear to Me and explain to Me exactly what threatens you. If you do this, I can remove your fear. I will convince you that in My presence, with My power, everything is possible. You have an expectation of your little boat crashing against rocks. I will never allow this. If I am steering the boat that is your work, you will be carried safely. Push on into each day with courage, understanding that while you may not be able, I am able. You may lack courage, but I have courage. You sometimes walk in darkness, but I have the light with which to see exactly where your footsteps are taking you. Dear apostles, it is a time for hard work, yes, but a time for great glory, also. Rejoice. I am with you."

Lay apostles, change can be scary! Questions of doubt will swirl. What is our life going to be like if we change this behavior or that behavior? How are others going to judge the "new" me? Can I handle the change? Can I stick to the change? The answer to all of the above is "yes!" We can do anything through Christ who is our strength!

Thank you, Lord, for the perseverance to fight through changes in my life. I feel secure knowing Your Hands are lovingly redirecting when necessary!

God bless,
Bonnie

Gospel Thoughts Today: Fair is Fair

Note: Forgot to post this yesterday! So here it is:

Last week I was reading "It's True" to my grandson Colt (a Little Critter book series he LOVES!). Little Critter tells "half-truths" and his little sister calls him out every time. Then he tells a half-truth to his classmates . . . oh boy! Little Critter decides half-truths are actually lying. After reading the book, I asked my grandson what the lesson was . . . he said, "don't lie to anyone and not in front of my sister!" Out of the mouths of babes, right? Makes me immediately think of the #FakeNews displayed on just about every news channel. Partial truths are not the complete story. What has happened to true journalistic reporting? The successful news programs are the ones digging into the real truth. And, giving us explanations of what is really happening . . . what the truth means. The best news program with the most accurate reporting is YourVoiceAmerica.tv. The host, Bill Mitchell (Twitter: @mitchellvii), along with all his patriot co-hosts, make sense of the craziness. I have never felt so informed as an American, ever. My daughter (who works at the Institute of World Politics in DC) jokes that I know what is happening much faster than her at times! Thank you, Bill Mitchell, for fair and truthful reporting!

My daughter with US Defense Secretary Mattis at IWP graduation a few months ago! 

In today's Gospel (Matthew 17:22-27), Jesus teaches us honesty and integrity:

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes,” he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”

In Volume Four, God the Father gives His Children good advice:

"Children, if you are not following My words, if you are not united with Me, if you do not acknowledge and respect My dominion over both you and your world, you are going to be uncomfortable and frightened. These times are over. My time is coming. There will be gladness, it is true. It is what My children have prayed for. But change is difficult for those without a firm understanding and belief in the next world. If you were asked to hand your life to Me this day, and account for it fully, how would you feel? Would you feel calm? Would you feel confident that while you have made mistakes, you have done your best and can offer Me a fair trade for your eternal reward? Could you even say, “God, I have wasted much of My time here on earth but I see that you are the Creator and I bow before you?” That is all that is necessary for your salvation, child, but you are going to wish that you had a small bit of something to give Me. You might give Me your years parenting your children. You might offer Me your service in your job or your obedience and respect for your parents. You might give Me your patience with sickness or depression. You might say, “God, I have risen every day and tried not to be dishonest or hurtful to others, despite my pain and misery.” To all of these things, and to nearly every life that holds dignity and some measure of effort to be honest, I will say, “Welcome. Well done. It is over now and you are safe and loved.” I will hold you against Me and heal all of your wounds and pain. You will be lovingly prepared to enter into the Kingdom. Children, do not be afraid of leaving this world and entering the next. I will be there, waiting to receive each one of you."

Lay apostles, how are you going to conduct yourself today? Life is short. Let's not waste any time!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the Gospels. Help me to focus on truth and dignity in Your Name!

God bless,
Bonnie

Friday, August 10, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Eternal Life

I remember reading today's Gospel years ago and having a "brain fart." (Ok, had to use one of the best lines from the movie GI Jane!) While trying to interpret it, I struggled with its meaning and relating it to my life. Here it is from John 12:24-26:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."

The part where my brain malfunctioned is bolded above. I was becoming frustrated deciphering what this meant and decided to email my priest. Right after I hit the send button, I reread the sentence again.  Then it dawned on me. And, I emailed him again with this:

"So, if we love living here on earth too much, we fear death and don't look forward to heaven.  But if we focus on heaven, and anticipate the day we get there, we will have eternal life. Did I get it right?"

His response:

"Indeed!"

Reading this sentence today, it's perfectly clear.  It's about climbing the mountain of holiness, with eyes looking toward heaven and not the world. It's about sacrifice, loneliness, being wronged and all other degrees of humiliation we endure on earth.  But it's persevering and suffering through it all knowing our reward when we die will be paradise . . . eternal life with Our Lord.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Climbing the Mountain, she describes unity to Christ in heaven and on earth:

“Truly, the Kingdom of God is within us because Jesus IS the Kingdom of God. I state clearly that in heaven, nobody reacts when Jesus enters an area. Some souls smiled at me or acknowledged me in welcome, but they did not acknowledge Jesus. I found this odd until I understood that Jesus never leaves any of these souls. The same way I experienced Him, they experienced Him. This is the sublime truth that can create peace in every soul. There is no restlessness, no hungering, no longing, no fear, no anxiety, and no disturbance possible when you are united to Jesus. And He is with you. On earth, we must believe this in faith. This is the treasure without price. Many souls on earth search frantically, looking for this state of mystical paradise. But, like Dorothy wearing the red shoes in the Wizard of Oz, this mystical state is with them all along and their search is doomed at its inception unless the soul looks within. If we begin our climb up the mountain of holiness each day, we will be accepting that Christ is within us. At the top of this mountain is unity with Jesus, yes, and that unity is a guaranteed thing if we desire it. The higher we climb, the more we labor for holiness and for the Kingdom on the path that He has marked out for us, and the more we honor Jesus within our souls.”

Lay apostles, don't waste another day wishing life was easier, your bank account larger, or others understood you better.  Embrace the challenges we are presented with in life as that . . . challenges which will bring a  closer unity with Christ.  Don't wait until disaster strikes to start praying. Start praying despite disaster striking. And, don't ever stop.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to walk with You through stormy weather despite the thunderclaps and lightning bolts all around me. And, for the common sense not to hold an umbrella overhead when the strike could electrocute me!

God bless,
Bonnie