Friday, December 13, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Humility and Wisdom . . . The Hard Way!

Learning lessons the hard way. Yep, that was me the first half of my life.  When I was younger, everything seemed so complicated. Poor choices were brushed off with the next difficulty. Only by the grace of God, I raised three daughters, all of whom I cherish. Since the girls were teens, I have tried to teach them the consequences of my mistakes at their age, and encourage them to be better . . . to be wiser. With age does come wisdom. All the pain, all the mistakes, all the poor choices, all the judgments made, and all the secret embarrassment did amount to something . . . humility and wisdom.  So take heart lay apostles still in the learning phase, it will all begin to make sense one day.  And when it all becomes clear . . . you will be thankful for every single blooper, blunder, aberration or whatever you want to call your misfires.  Accept this as part of your journey . . . the lessons and gifts. Once again, He proves just how much He loves us.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 11:16-19), Jesus speaks of wisdom prevailing:

Jesus said to the crowds: "To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by her works."

I love the following quote from Anne a lay apostle's book Serving in Clarity.  She gets right to the heart of it all:

"Which one of us would deny that our past pain from our sins has given us wisdom and compassion? Do not judge others. Bring others God’s love and God’s truth."

Lay apostles, what lessons have you learned along the way? How can you take those lessons and apply them to your life now? Discard the negative thoughts and replace them knowing the wisdom you have gained will lead you closer to Christ and His mission.  Pass on the lessons learned to your children or grandchildren; to close friends or family. Be gentle when they have made the same choices . . .

Thank you, Lord, for the humility and wisdom I have gained so far in my life. Thank you for showing me my "poor choices" have turned me into the person I am now . . . Your devoted follower!

God bless,

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: What Child Is This?

Today we honor our Blessed Mother Mary on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In an Advent letter from Anne a lay apostle a few years ago, she said, "Mary was the first Tabernacle and Jesus was happy to be nestled safely in His mother's body." I had never thought of Our Lady as the first Tabernacle! But truly she is! Her love and sacrifice were not only for God but for all of us, even 2,017 years later. So thank Mary today for her "yes" to birth Our Savior. She deserves it. Think about giving birth in a stable, in Bethlehem, in the middle of winter.  I checked online to see what the temperature is this time of year there. High in the 30's. Unthinkable enduring labor in 30-degree weather! Think about the sterile environment babies are born into today. A stable is full of manure, dirt, and mud. Not so sterile for Our King, right? Yet Mary didn't complain. Yes, thank Mary. She is our direct connection to her Son. She is ready and waiting to hear our cries and intercede for us. After all, as my mother always said, what Son doesn't listen to His Mother?

What Child is This? is a beautiful song reminding us of the love of our heavenly Mother:

What child is this, who laid to rest 
On Mary's lap, is sleeping? 
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, 
While shepherds watch are keeping? 
This, this is Christ the King, 
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: 
Haste, haste to bring him laud, 
The Babe, the Son of Mary! 

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh, 
Come peasant king to own Him, 
The King of kings, salvation brings, 
Let loving hearts enthrone Him. 
Raise, raise the song on high, 
The Virgin sings her lullaby: 
Joy, joy, for Christ, is born, 
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

The Gospel (Luke 1:39-47) below shows the humility 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, "Most 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."

In Volume Seven, St. Thomas Aquinas describes the priceless love and intercession Our Lady provides her children on earth:

"Dearest brothers and sisters, never underestimate what Jesus can do with a soul who decides for Him. To underestimate what He can do is to limit Him. A soul deciding for Jesus can change the world and that is our goal. We must help Him to change this world. You have been given some ideas of the weapons you have at your disposal. You have Jesus, of course. You have Mary. Many also underestimate the power of our heavenly mother. Be assured that the enemy knows her power. Do not let your heavenly mother be attacked without response. If you witness this, you must speak out for her. This pleases everyone in heaven, but this pleases Jesus in a special way. She is a loyal friend to you and a powerful intercessor. There are many mercies and graces given to your world today which would be absent but for Mary. We love her immeasurably. You will not err if you follow her. She leads to Jesus."

Lay apostles, do you honor Mary, our Blessed Mother? Do you ask for her intercession? She is the direct path to her Son. Honor her. Love her. Pray the Rosary. She is always watching over us as a good mother does all her children.

Thank you, Lord, for my heavenly Mother Mary. I know how powerful her intercession is and thankful You allow her to appear to so many visionaries over the centuries. I promise to honor her every chance I get.

God bless,

Monday, December 9, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: The Biggest Leap of Faith - Mary's Yes to God

"Fear is faith in reverse." Zig Ziglar 

Today I came across the quote above when I googled fear and Zig Ziglar. It was perfect in combination with the Gospel reading on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. If Mary let fear take over when the angel Gabriel appeared, this world would be unrecognizable to us. But God chose Mary because He created her pure and faithful, knowing her love for Him would overshadow any fear of what He would ask of her. Stop for a moment and imagine being in Mary's shoes. Now think about your life as it is today. Would you say "yes" to God if He asked something of you? Lay apostles, He is and has been asking us to love and follow Him for a long time. It's all in the Gospels; it's in every piece of writing through Anne a lay apostle. Leave fear behind today and take a stand for our Heavenly Father. Commit to Him and witness the graces He has waiting for you!

In today's Gospel (Luke 1:26-38), Mary overcomes her human fear for God's Will:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

In Volume Three, our Blessed Mother Mary gives us strength and comfort when fear seems to be getting the best of us:

"Children, I know it is difficult for you at times. Remember that I lived the earthly life and drew much comfort from faith. I was often unsure of what the future held for my Son but I knew it was suffering. I lived with that reality, despite which I remained cheerful, dutiful, and joyful. You may ask how I did that. I tell you that I did it through prayer. I constantly asked our Heavenly Father to sustain me. When I felt the grief of my Son’s future, I stopped whatever I was doing, and made an act of obedience to our Father. This became my life habit and it served me well, even during the most difficult hours. You will find this too. Whenever you feel unsure of yourself or afraid, make an act of obedience. Say the following: “God in heaven, I pledge my allegiance to You. I give You my life, my work, and my heart. In turn, give me the grace of obeying Your every direction to the fullest possible extent.” That is all, children. That simple prayer will draw consolation down to you, consolation which will steady you and prepare you to proceed in His will. We do not judge you for your mistakes. We do not criticize. We want to guide you and if you turn the wrong way, we will simply correct you. Do not be afraid of failure, because, with God, failure is not possible. Step forward now with joy, enriched by my words. Jesus, your Savior, also has much to say to you, and will continue this heavenly direction. My children, humility is your watchword and love is your compass. You are being placed under my mantle of protection."

Lay apostles, what are you fearful of? Write it down. Make a list. Be honest with yourself. Then write down what you believe the outcome would be if what you fear was to come true. Does your answer have anything to do with pride? Fear of the unknown? Death? Choose faith over fear . . . it works every time!

Thank you, Lord, for helping me overcome my fears. I know I haven't completely eradicated them, but I know the graces are available at a moment's notice!

God bless,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: A Lava Rock Walk?

Walking on lava rocks or on a concrete sidewalk? Either can cause us to fall (or burn our feet on hot lava rocks!) or lose our balance. But I imagine the lava rocks would be wobbling with each step whereas the sidewalk is smooth and balanced. The older I get, the more I appreciate consistency! When it comes to our faith, why do we choose the "lava rocks" every once in a while? Sin is inevitable, we are all sinners. With each new day, God allows us a "do-over" to try a little harder, be a little better, love a little more. Building our faith life with the Words of Christ can only strengthen our walk. It makes us a little stronger, more resilient, with the ability to appreciate suffering and the graces attached. His Love for us is immense. Let's build on Him, our Solid Rock!

Today's Gospel (Matthew 7:21, 24-27) drives home this point . . . following the Words of Christ means living in unity with Him:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

In Anne a lay apostle's book The Mist of Mercy, she beautifully distinguishes between authentic LOVE and fake love:

"God is love, first, foremost, and always. Heaven is all about love and is brimming over and filled with love. Hell is the opposite, the antithesis of heaven. In hell souls will find no love, only hatred. If God’s Kingdom is all about love, then love is the most important thing we need to consider. Perhaps then, if this work is to be of any merit to souls, it should begin with an examination of authentic love and seek to expose fake love. Where the enemy is present, one can look for a lack of authentic love, which can be partially characterized by a willingness to sacrifice. Real love, which originates in God, willingly accepts that sacrifice and giving are necessary. The enemy’s version features selfishness. Clearly we draw a distinction between the love of an infant or child and the love of an adult. We must examine the relationships around us, most importantly, our own. The enemy will seek to destroy what is good in a relationship and replace it with exploitation and manipulation. As lay apostles, we must look into each relationship in our lives and be certain that we follow Godly principles. We must seek to be genuinely giving, with an awareness that we should strive to set an example of Christlike behavior to each other."

Lay apostles, we have a finite amount of time on this earth. Use it wisely and make sure you are filling your heart with His Words of love, not with what the world thinks love should be. Focus and keep climbing the mountain!

Thank you, Lord, for the grace to see all the love You have blessed me with. Sorry in the past I have had blinders on . . . I don't anymore.

God bless,