Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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 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,
Bonnie

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gospel Thought Today: Accentuate the Positive

Negativity abounds every time I turn the TV on. It's one of the reasons I rarely watch the news. Now if I were the owner of a television station with news telecasts, here is what I would make mandatory: for every negative piece of news, there was positive to offset it. Think about how that could affect people. Or better yet, MORE positive than negative? There are countless compassionate people making this world a better place, striving to bring hope when hope can be hard to find. There is a song by the beloved Ella Fitzgerald called "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive" which sums up what we as Christians should be showing the world. Here are some of the lyrics, followed by a YouTube video of Ella singing this uplifting song:

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better, accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me?

Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the elininatin' of the negative
And the accent on the positive
And gather 'round me children if you're willin'
And sit tight while I start reviewing'


Today's Gospel (Luke 10:21-24) reminds us of the graces given to followers of Christ:

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.  For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

In Anne a lay apostle's book Whispers From the Cross, she directs us to focus on the positive:

"If the world is facing a difficult time, and it seems that we are, then we will need to work very hard to understand God’s power and stop talking about darkness. Is the darkness there? Of course. Only a spiritually blind man would deny this. But we sometimes add to the darkness instead of holding up the light. We can be guilty of doing this by talking incessantly of the darkness with dire threats of impending doom. In most cases, we are speculating. Perhaps we should speculate on how God can rescue us and posit those theories instead of hypothesizing how the enemy will play with us next. Perhaps we will speculate on how the Church will lead us with strength and courage instead of how we will be overcome. Perhaps we could try an exercise and guess how good men will become great men through challenges instead of guessing how men of apparent lesser good will become evil through temptation. May the Lord have mercy on us for being so pessimistic about God’s world and may the Lord enlighten us as to how we bring unity to God’s Church and not division. If we identify that unity is desirable, and indeed necessary for the advancement of the renewal, then we will make a decision to participate in the acquisition of this unity. Jesus loves us so much. He has such tremendous hope placed in each one of us and in each one of the roles we have been assigned."

Lay apostles, what are you focused on today? Life is full of disappointments if you continue to dwell on them. So, let's accentuate the positive . . . stepping away from all the negativity and opening our eyes to the beauty and graces provided by Our Father in heaven. At the least, with every negative thought, quickly think of a positive one to offset it! I'll be working on that right along with you!

Thank you, Lord, for shaking the negative out of my head with Your beautiful words in the Gospel and in Anne's books. Continue to remind me to focus on the positive!

God bless,
Bonnie

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gospel Thoughts: I Will Follow Him

After reading the Gospel today, the song "I Will Follow Him" and the movie Sister Act immediately came to mind. The vision of a group of nuns singing this tune about Our Savior puts a smile on my face every time I hear it! This song was first performed on the Perry Como show in April of 1963 by the original artist, Little Peggy March, which conjures memories of my two older sisters singing this when I was young:


We all have choices . . . to live a life with or without Christ. I choose to follow Him. Whenever I veer off that path thinking I can control my journey alone, I am reminded (and sometimes very quickly!) I cannot. He is my source of strength when I am weak; my calm when chaos ensues; my comforter when I am fearful. I could never imagine a life without Him.

Today's Gospel (Matthew 4:18-22) couldn't be any clearer . . . nothing is more important than taking up your cross and following Christ:

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

In the June 2012 Monthly Message, Jesus encourages His followers:

"I am pleased when I see holiness increasing in My friends and this increase in holiness is what gives Me hope for the Church. Yes, I am urging My followers toward sacrifice and service and many of you are answering with your whole hearts. You, listening to My words and allowing them to change you, are giving Me great hope. With this hope I push on into the world, confident, that while some resist change, others embrace it. Yes, change is happening, most especially in the heart of every committed apostle. You are becoming holier. As you are becoming holier, My Church is becoming holier. Apostles, hear this call with all seriousness. I, Jesus, have everything needed to advance the Church into greater unity. And I, Jesus, can do this as quickly as you will allow Me."

Lay apostles, pick up your cross and follow Jesus. What have you done today to spread the messages of Jesus in the Gospels and the Volumes?  It doesn't have to be complicated. For example, have you told someone you love them today?  If not, say it! Have you smiled at a stranger who seems sad? If not, smile! Be joyful and band together with fellow lay apostles around the world to provide what this world so desperately needs . . . the hope of salvation when following him.

Thank you, Lord, for providing what I need when I need it most!

God bless,

Bonnie

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gospel Thought Today: Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

I really don't need signs anymore. But I do require a gentle "shove" in the right direction every once in a while. Jesus knows me well. He knows when I ask for help with decision-making, I need His answer to slap me in the face. If it doesn't, I vacillate back and forth trying to figure out if my thoughts are His will or my own. Ultimately, the answer lies in this . . . will my decision further His Kingdom? Or, will it make me feel better, stronger, or more loved? Pray the Litany of Humility. The answer will be crystal clear.

In today's Gospel (Luke 21:5-11), Jesus answers the "signs" question:

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.' Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky."

In Volume Three, God the Father asks us to search for signs of His Love:

"My children of the world, look for Me. Look for the signs in your world that I am present. Some would have you believe that I am no longer actively directing the outcome of this time. Children, can you believe that I would lovingly lead My children for centuries, since the beginning of the world, and then leave? Would I really turn away from My precious creatures? This idea is fooling many souls today. They proceed in their lives as though I do not exist and as though there will be no reckoning for decisions against Me, against others, and at times even against nature, as I created nature. I see all. I will judge every action. I will reward every decision made by one soul for the benefit of another. In the same way, I will challenge every decision made by one soul to the detriment of another. Children, all is being recorded. You will account for your life. I am merciful. I am merciful to a degree that will astound you. But you must allow Me to be merciful. You must accept My mercy. You cannot scorn My mercy, child. Allow Me to exercise My mercy in your life. “How must we do that, Father?” you ask. I will tell you. You must say this to Me: 'God, my Father in heaven, You are all mercy. You love me and see my every sin. God, I call on You now as the merciful Father. Forgive my every sin. Wash away the stains on my soul so that I may once again rest in complete innocence. I trust You, Father in heaven. I rely on You. I thank you. Amen.'”

Lay apostles, are you waiting for signs the end is near? Or, are you searching for signs of God's presence in our world? Live life in preparation for His second coming, not in fear of it. If you are prepared, there are no surprises. Only the joy of living for eternity with our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Thank you, Lord, for showing me the importance of living for You while on this earth. Please keep me focused on Your signs of beauty and love so graciously provided to endure this time in exile from You.

God bless,
Bonnie