Friday, August 18, 2017

Gospel Word Today: Divorce

About 5 years ago I wrote the following blog post about divorce. The response was overwhelming, to say the least. The nastiness a few attacked me with was a shocker to an unseasoned writer. But the love and support from the majority 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.

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.  And, with a lot of prayer, become stronger, healthier, and happier.  Divorce is a two-way street. Take a good hard look at what worked and what didn't work.  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 Jay.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gospel Word Today: Listen

Today's Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20) couldn't be any clearer . . . in marriage, in relationships, in business . . . be honest, trustworthy and a good listener. What we give on earth will be given to us after our death. So, let's do our best to put our ego aside and serve others. It's a new day and a new opportunity to focus on the end result . . . an eternity in the presence of Christ!

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen,  take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

In Anne a lay apostle's book Serving in Clarity, the following quote provides a visual worth remembering when the climb is steep:

"Today I found myself back at the mountain of holiness. I saw many people ascending at quite a high level. These ones made steady progress and seemed to exhibit great joy. I found myself among them for a moment in that I had the experience of how they felt. The mountain at this height was steep and there would be a risk of falling back but I sensed the most secure support at my back. It was like a solid structure against which to rest and it felt perfectly safe and absolutely sound. I saw, in looking around, that something bound us all together at this level and everyone around me was as secure as I was, which is what contributed powerfully to our freedom and subsequent joy. I said, 'Jesus, what binds us together?' Jesus said, 'It is obedience to My Church, Anne. The solid support behind you is your obedience to My Church.'

I rejoiced in the happiness of those around me and delighted in the steadiness with which they moved, never backsliding. I understood clearly that if a soul left obedience the support would be jeopardized. I asked Jesus a question because I am bothered by something. I said, 'Lord, what about the cases where people act in obedience but are really unkind? They are obeying but something is terribly wrong.' Jesus drew my attention to the Ring of Defiance, the ring of people at the base of the mountain that repulsed others. I understood that while some appeared to obey in deed or in behavior, they lacked the spirit of obedience. Jesus told me that I would know quite quickly if the spirit of obedience was lacking in a soul because I would experience arrogance from these people. They pretend to obey but in their hearts they have no love. Their obedience feeds their arrogance and they use the pretense of obedience to hold themselves above others. People experience superiority and coldness from them. I know some of these people and it is very repugnant. They can be cruel and indifferent. It is another case of others being the mirror in which they admire themselves. I said, 'Lord, they do a lot of work.' He said 'Yes, and they demand full payment from Me. They present each deed to Me with a demand for recompense.' I remained quiet, such was the dreadfulness of this. Jesus, in response to my unasked question said, 'They will be repaid for their deeds but they will spend time in purgatory learning about love and humility.' I was very aware that those climbing the mountain could rest in their obedience when they became tired or discouraged. They could actually lean back into it for a time until their courage returned. God is pleased with this."

Lay apostles, what are we binding on earth? Is it love, patience, service and humility? If it isn't, we have some work to do! I know I take my eyes off the mountain of holiness every once in a while, and when I do, my actions and decisions aren't stellar. Allowing the world to draw my attention away from the end goal (eternity with Christ) is usually short-lived. And when I can quickly get myself back on track, the world is a much kinder, peaceful place!

Thank you, Lord, for Your messages in the Volumes and the wisdom You have blessed Your servant Anne with. I wouldn't be who I am today without this mission!

God bless,

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Solemnity of 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,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Gospel Words Today: Exchange

Humidity and flat ironed curly hair just don't mix. I leave the house with nice straight hair (which took about 40 minutes to create!) and within minutes I can feel my hair expanding . . . visions of Pepe, my childhood French Poodle immediately come to mind!

I have spent the past two days watching two of my grandchildren, ages 5 and 3. One thing I can always expect out of my granddaughter when she comes to our house . . . "Mimi, playground please?" Which means our swingset in the backyard. Now for those of you not living in SW Florida, it is about 90 degrees with about 80% humidity right now. This is the time of year we avoid extended periods outside. But with her sweet little face looking at me, how can I refuse? Well, I never do refuse and choose to suffer the curly hair fate. In exchange, I am blessed immensely with their love and joy. I would endure anything for these children just as Jesus asks us to weather the storm for Him. Life will bring with it suffering. We have a choice . . . focus on Christ or focus on the world. I chose Christ!

In today's Gospel (Matthew 16:24-28), Jesus asks us to endure suffering on earth in His Name . . . and our reward will be great in heaven:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

In Volume Two, Jesus shows us by focusing on Him instead of ourselves, we can bring His love and kindness to others:

"If you are hurried, you will miss My cue and the soul will remain without necessary consolation and guidance. Children, this is the state of affairs all over your world at this time. Do you notice that loneliness and despair are everywhere? Children, you will not find loneliness and despair where I am. Indeed, even in the most wretched of circumstances, if I am present, you will see eyes that smile and offer kindness, and you will see great hope, even in the face of suffering and death. So what is missing in your world? I am missing. Few souls allow Me to work through them. When I am allowed, you will see hope begin to flourish again. Faces will be more at peace and joy will flow naturally from one soul to another. I will put such joy in your faces that you will be unable to conceal your unity with Me. Crosses will feel lighter and hold great meaning. Children, I have so much to offer you, both in these words and in My constant presence in your lives. So do not turn away, even for a day. Draw closer to Me, that We may proceed. What feels difficult to you, anticipating changes in your life, will come easily. That is another promise I make to you."

Lay apostles, how do you endure suffering? Loneliness? Tragedy? I used to try to handle it alone. Now, I couldn't do it without Him. Maybe it's my age . . . but I sure wish I would have had the Volumes 40 years ago. I don't think I would have sweat the small stuff as much.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me about true suffering and letting go of insignificant inconveniences. I haven't perfected it yet, but I am learning!

God bless,