Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: What Are You Afraid Of?

Today the word "afraid" spoke to me in the Gospel, as it perfectly relates to a conversation I recall from a few years ago. Out to lunch with two women, the topic of martyrs came up. I recalled a dream I had while writing Heavenly Healing. I was in our local church, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There were about 5 other Adorers scattered throughout the pews when I heard scuffling in the back of the church. I turned around and saw a few masked men coming toward me. One of them came right up to me, pointed a gun at my forehead and asked, "Would you die for Him?" I didn't hesitate. I said, "Yes." He pulled the trigger and the impact of the bullet woke me as if actually shot. I was a bit disoriented as I jumped out of bed . . . the dream felt so real. That dream was a key moment in my life. Just years earlier, I would have been too afraid to say yes, and probably would have lied to stay alive.

As I was telling the two women this experience, one of them said, "But you wouldn't actually say 'yes' if it really happened, would you?" With no hesitation, I said "Of course I would say yes and die for Him!" She was shocked, going on further, "So if a demented person walked in this door right now, and you knew he was mentally ill and pointing a gun, you wouldn't say something to save your life?" I then told her I would never deny Him, ever. The look on her face made me realize how important it is to spread the Gospel messages and words from all of Heaven in the Volumes.

We are all heading to the same place, and I know He controls the day I am called home. Whether I am shot, drown, or die peacefully in my sleep, I am ready. Not that I am asking Him to take me now! But, if we fear death, are we really trusting God? It has taken this apostolate to form me, to learn to trust in Christ, no matter what is happening in my environment. It's not always easy and I can't say human fear wouldn't take over if confronted with the scenario from my dream. But my answer will always be "yes." Be not afraid!

In today's Gospel (Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24A), Joseph had to overcome his human concerns about Mary, and follow the Lord's plan:

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Staying in Place, she illuminates how important it is to stand firm in our love of God and commitment to Him:

"Many people remain in place, offering God’s love to others long after they have ‘felt’ an experience of love. Those children of the Father understand, in simplicity, that the best response they can make to God’s love is to bring it to others. Those who accept God’s love simply, need the least amount of persuasion and maintenance. God, in a real sense, gives them everything. They have been given the whole inheritance. They do not feel this, yet they serve on because they know this to be true intellectually. Really, whatever it takes to keep us serving is available to us in the moments we need help. On one day, one thing will provide what we need. On another day, it will be something else. This is important because if something consoles us one day and we lose it another day, we must not be afraid that we can no longer persevere. Instead, we should rest in the certainty that we no longer need that type of glue, and the newest type will be offered to us so that we can stick out our commitments to the spread of the Father’s love."

Lay apostles, do you let fear control your life? Not just the fear of death, but fear of what others will think of you? If your answer is yes, dig into the Bible. Read about the lives of Saints. Read the Volumes. I promise the more you understand Our Lord, the easier it is to let go of fear.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me love and commitment to You trumps everything!

God bless,

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Making U-Turns

It's easy to get caught up in noise. It's easy to try to predict the reasons behind erratic behavior. Analyzing every possible scenario is exhausting. So why try? Well, it's just how my brain works. Luckily, I have learned that when my brain starts calculating the worst case and best case scenarios, it's time to call in the Big Guy. My job is to love and be merciful, leading by example. And, set very clear boundaries.

Reminds me of an incident when my three girls were teenagers. It was around the time Ricky Martin was the big teen heartthrob. He had just opened a restaurant in Miami, so we decided it would be a fun day trip. (The girls were hoping they would get a glimpse of him, although it was highly unlikely). We were on the highway for about 20 minutes, when my oldest Mallorie was arguing with her youngest sister Taylor. The first "girls, stop the fighting" calmly escaped my lips. They quieted for about 5 minutes. Then, the bickering began again. Now my voice was a little louder. "Girls, if you argue one more time we are turning around and going home," I said (regretfully after I realized I would have to follow through with the threat!). "Noooooo, mom, we won't fight anymore. We promise!"  I was actually pretty excited to visit the restaurant, too, so I hoped they would get along for the next hour. Mind you, my middle daughter Whitney stayed out of the conflict. After the first warning, she reiterated my words to her sisters. After the second warning, she was starting to get upset with them. We were about 10 miles from Alligator Alley and turning around wasn't an option for quite a while. Then from the back seat, it happened. I can't remember who started it. "OK, no Ricky Martin today! You guys blew it!" Got off at the next exit and turned around with three girls crying and apologizing and begging for another chance, although they knew I almost always followed through with my threats (I did let some things slip once in a while!). The lesson is, stop the noise. I am completely aware teenagers = drama. But as adults, unacceptable behavior is just that . . . unacceptable.  With clear boundaries intact, it takes a lot to disturb my peace anymore. I love unconditionally, with mercy, but won't hesitate to pull off the highway and head back home!

In today's Gospel (Luke 6:36-38), Jesus talks about U-Turns:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

In Anne's book Staying in Place, she reminds us of Our God's great mercy and patience:

"People tend to put their past sins in the front seat, blocking their spirituality. In truth, God understands more than anyone why that person committed the sins he or she committed. People might believe that a harsh God has turned away from them but it will never be true. And if human beings judged them for mistakes or for sins, people do not forget that and they believe God is the same. God waits patiently, up the road, pointing to a hope-filled future, waiting to be noticed as a merciful, loving and understanding force for healing and change."

Lay apostles, Jay has an analogy I love when things become chaotic. An American gentleman one day goes to India. He's meeting with an Indian executive on the first floor of a high rise building. Behind the executive is a large glass window through which he observes people outside the building spinning in circles. Finally, he interrupts the executive and asks what the people outside were doing. The executive explains it is part of a religious sect called the Whirling Dervishes. They whirl because it's part of their belief system. The American asked him "how do you deal with them whirling directly outside your building?" He responds, "I don't do anything.  I leave them alone. Don't allow them to disturb me. I allow them to whirl because they are going to do it wherever they are." The moral of the story is even though some people choose to whirl, we can allow them to do so without getting caught up in their vortex of chaos. We can choose to detach with love and mercy. In doing so, we will obtain more clarity, peacefulness, and energy to do His Will.

Thank you, Lord, for getting me through the teenage years and now enjoying my adult daughters and grandchildren! If I would have known grandparenting was this wonderful, I would have been a much calmer mother!

God bless,

Friday, March 15, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: It's Only a Flesh Wound!

The Litany of Humility saved me again. Just as my heart and mind were about to “go there,” the words in this beautiful prayer came alive as if Jesus Himself was reciting them in my head. From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus. From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus. That others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Those three verses get me over the initial sting every time. Most people don’t intentionally hurt us. They become absorbed in themselves and what they want. And that’s ok. We all have the right to choose options benefiting our own needs. But words can hurt. Yet, as the Black Knight says to King Arthur (after Arthur has cut off both his arms) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “It’s just a flesh wound!” Lay apostles, insults are only superficial. Remember the Litany of Humility and I promise, over time, you will learn not to take things so personally.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 5:20-26), Jesus reminds us not to hold grudges lest we are judged accordingly by the Father:

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment . . .'

In Volume Two, The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, He tells us the ability to forgive is only a prayer away:

"Dear children of this one true God, seek out people who have hurt you, especially in your family, and offer your forgiveness. You don’t need to look for it. Ask Me where it is, dear child, and indeed, I will hand forgiveness to you. If you do this, you will heal. You may say, “Jesus, it is too hard. I cannot do this as I have been hurt too badly.” My child, again I counsel you to practice. Say these words of forgiveness in your head. Then say them aloud. Become used to the sound of them. With My graces, it will not only be possible, it will be easy. Trust Me, who loves you with a genuine love and seeks your peace. I want no barrier of bitterness between Us. I want to heal you. I want to heal families. Do not be afraid. If someone rejects your forgiveness, that is his loss. You will heal, and you will be rewarded. It matters not to Me what a recipient does with a gift you have given. I look only at the fact that you have given when I examine your life."

Lay apostles, I struggle on my path just as much as you. All I can do is continue following Christ through the Bible, Volumes and any other spiritual reading I can get my hands on. The more immersed I become, the closer I feel to the holiness He expects of me.

Thank you, Lord, for the strength to move past hurt quickly and painlessly. The closer I get to You, the easier life becomes.

God bless,

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Gospel Thought Today: Ask, Then Accept His Answer

In today's Gospel (Matthew 7:7-12), the word "ask" caught my eye:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. 
This is the law and the prophets."

Jesus makes it so simple to ask Him for what we need. Now, the key is accepting what happens after we ask as His Will, not ours! The Gospel spells it out clearly . . . TRUST in Him and He will provide. It's so easy to fall into the trap of believing God doesn't hear your prayers when they are left unanswered. Alas, here is a question to ponder: Do I calmly go about my life, consciously aware He will guide me in the right direction to answer my prayer? Or, do I anticipate immediate change, becoming impatient with God when it doesn't occur fast enough? Believe in the Gospel. Believe in Jesus. He is in control.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Staying in Place, Jesus asks us to open our hearts and minds to the love of God. For when we do, He is able to give us everything we need and pray for:

"I am extending to you now a gift of calm, along with a gift of certainty. Ask me for these gifts and they shall be yours. You will be glad of your commitment to me. The cost to you is the relinquishment of self-will. The benefit to you is sublime and goes out to the whole world. You are standing in a place of conviction. Talk about conviction. Talk about your certainty of My presence in the world and My plan for the children of the Father who both radiates love and creates love. When you receive His love and offer it to others, it grows and grows and grows. But you must accept love. Perhaps that is another question for you to answer.

Do you believe that you are loved? Contemplate this question often. You are loved infinitely. When others hate you because of Me, the Father’s tenderness for you reflects His tenderness for Me during My passion. Believe this because you will then rejoice at your sufferings. Each opportunity to endure ridicule will be for you an indication of how close you are to Me. I love you. You are a part of Me and without you the body of Christ on Earth is less. Please remain steadfast in My plan for you."

Lay apostles, WE ARE LOVED! Every one of us. Develop the confidence to fully follow the journey Christ has laid out for you and the courage to ask Him for graces in times of weakness or uncertainty. The more I trust Him, and I mean REALLY trust Him with my whole heart, the easier it is to handle the ups and downs I am faced with on a daily basis.

Thank you, Lord, for Your beautiful words above . . . both in the Gospel and Staying in Place. Please be quick to remind me of Your Passion and all You suffered for me so I can get back on track when I have gone a little off course!

God bless,