The Inner Thoughts of Many…

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed…’ (Luke 2:34-35)

I had different idea brewing to write about, but when I heard the above verse from the Gospel reading at Mass on the feast day of the Presentation of Our Lord, it pierced me. There is so much in it that speaks to our time, especially the last phrase.

First of all, it seems that the more society rejects God, the more “free” people feel to give voice to things that in the past might have remained unspoken. The “inside voice” has become the “outside voice”. Everyone is talking at once, and almost no one is prepared to be swayed from their position. Amidst the noise and chaos is a spiritual dynamic: the inner thoughts of many are being revealed.

In the past only God had access to our inner thoughts. Now we are all being exposed to the cacophony. We are getting a taste of what God has had to endure since the fall, but amplified in our day, and there is almost no escape. Oh, the wisdom of silent contemplation! The mind of man is a bucking wild horse broken free of its last harness. Look out!

The second reason this phrase pierced me is that I have recently read a book titled, “The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience” by Christine Watkins*. For those of you who have never heard of the prophesied “warning” or “illumination of conscience” I offer you a simple explanation. The prophecy, explicated by numerous well-known saints and mystics including St. Faustina, tells of an coming manifestation of God’s mercy in which we will see ourselves as God sees us, in the light of Truth, but also in the light of his unimaginable love for poor sinner and has been called “a judgment in miniature”. It will be a great shaking for humanity, an event that will remove all doubt about the existence of our perfectly merciful and perfectly just God, a time of decision for every living human soul each of whom will have to answer the question posed by God: “Are you with Me or against Me?”

The foreword of the above-mentioned book was written by Bishop Gavin Ashenden (Chaplain to the Queen of England from 2008 to 2017). He begins by saying, “Every so often a book falls into one’s hands that is particularly powerful in unveiling the mystery and power of God’s purpose for his Church today, and this is one such.” The book contains, not just prophecies, but real-life testimonies of people who have already experienced an illumination, a sneak-preview of what is purportedly to come.

Intrigued, I bought the e-book, not realizing that one of the people whose testimony is included is, in fact, a friend of mine. I knew her at the time she experienced her illumination several years ago. It left her so shaken it was a full week before she could speak to me about it. The experience was extremely painful—to see how her sins had hurt Our Lord. It left her with a profound sense of gratitude and love of our merciful God, along with a burning desire never to hurt him again, which has not waned to this day.

Reading these stories helps us to realize that even our little sins hurt God. St. Faustina herself had an illumination of conscience, and described it in this way:

“Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for. What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy-God!”

Divine Mercy in My Soul (36)

This is not meant to be cause for fear, but is an unimaginable grace leading to a far deeper repentance than we could ever imagine. What a gift! Whether or not you believe that this global event is imminent, it is a ever prudent to keep our spiritual house in order, especially through the grace of mercy and the mercy of grace found in the sacraments.

This past week the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, featured a reflection by Saint Bernard, abbot. Though it was penned almost 1000 years ago, it remains a timeless teaching on every sinner’s right to the mercy of God. I was going to use excerpts but could not decide which jewel was superfluous. So, I give the final word to St. Bernard:

“Where can the weak find a place of firm security and peace, except in the wounds of the Savior? Indeed, the more secure is my place there the more he can do to help me. The world rages, the flesh is heavy, and the devil lays his snares, but I do not fall, for my feet are planted on firm rock. I may have sinned gravely. My conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: he was wounded for our iniquities. What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ? And so if I bear in mind this strong, effective remedy, I can never again be terrified by the malignancy of sin.

“Surely the man who said: My sin is too great to merit pardon, was wrong. He was speaking as though he were not a member of Christ and had no share in his merits, so that he could claim them as his own, as a member of the body can claim what belongs to the head. As for me, what can I appropriate that I lack from the heart of the Lord who abounds in mercy? They pierced his hands and feet and opened his side with a spear. Through the openings of these wounds I may drink honey from the rock and oil from the hardest stone: that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet.

“He was thinking thoughts of peace, and I did not know it, for who knows the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? But the piercing nail has become a key to unlock the door, that I may see the good will of the Lord. And what can I see as I look through the hole? Both the nail and the wound cry out that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The sword pierced his soul and came close to his heart, so that he might be able to feel compassion for me in my weaknesses.

“Through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of his heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high. Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously that in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy? More mercy than this no one has than that he lay down his life for those who are doomed to death.

“My merit comes from his mercy; for I do not lack merit so long as he does not lack pity. And if the Lord’s mercies are many, then I am rich in merits. For even if I am aware of many sins, what does it matter? Where sin abounded grace has overflowed. And if the Lord’s mercies are from all ages for ever, I too will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever. Will I not sing of my own righteousness? No, Lord, I shall be mindful only of your justice. Yet that too is my own; for God has made you my righteousness.”

Second Reading in the Office of Readings, Wednesday, Third Week in Ordinary Time

(*”The Warning” is available for purchase at Queen of Peace Media or Amazon)

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Sustaining the weary with a word…

As I was writing this blog post, I heard the shocking news that Notre Dame Basilica in Paris was burning. News reports rightly spoke of the tragic loss of historical treasures, not least the Basilica herself. But even more tragic is the loss of faith in that part of the world. God is calling, louder and louder it seems, and it is always the same call: “Come back to me, my children. Are you weary? Let me sustain you with a word…”

Isaiah 50:4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.

Jesus, the Word, knows well our weariness, the weariness that today oppresses us and threatens to crush our spirit.

Think of his weariness in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the weight of the sins of billions of souls crushed him to the point of sweating blood, the word that sustained Jesus in the garden was the one he spoke to the Father in his agony, “Not my will but yours be done.” The word was fiat. At that moment angels came and waited on him to sustain him, for it was not the end of his suffering. That fiat called down the graces he would need to complete his mission.

Indeed, Jesus is a Redeemer who knows our weariness—but infinitely magnified. In his weariness, or perhaps because of it, he went on to embrace the cross and resolutely climb the hill to Calvary bearing in mind the glory that would be his—and ours—if only he would complete his mission. Fiat. His weariness of body and spirit ended with death, but his rising from the dead gave new life and glorious hope to all. He took his weariness to the tomb and left it imprinted on his burial shroud for all to see.

Mary, the Blessed Mother, whom Jesus bequeathed to us, and us to her from the cross, also endured unimaginable sorrow and crushing weariness. When they met face-to-face on the Via Dolorosa, what pain must have been in their eyes. Yet, what love and trust. Wordlessly their hearts beat as one, fiat, fiat, fiat… Here as in every moment of her existence, her will remained chained to the Throne of God.

There is astonishing power in that little word, fiat. It can sustain us in our weariness as it did for Jesus and Mary, but more than that it can propel us forward with new strength, fortitude, courage, and hope. Like a cosmic explosion, it is a word which, united to the divine fiat, dramatically transforms people and changes the trajectory of world events.

The cosmic importance of this little word is expanded upon in great detail in the Lord’s teachings on the Divine Will in the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. In the Easter Vigil Mass we recall how God’s fiat, “Let there be…” set all creation in motion. On Good Friday we hear Jesus re-echo his fiat of redemption in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Word he initially uttered in heaven when the plan of redemption was conceived, first in the Divine Will and then after her fiat, in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

It is almost inconceivable that our salvation hinged on one little word uttered by a humble Hebrew Maiden. Throughout her existence, that word was as constant in her as the beating of her heart, even in the unimaginable agony of her own Calvary.

She is a model of abject trust in the glorious power of God. At our Parish Lenten Mission the priest reminded us that none of the prophecies made at the Presentation of Jesus had been fulfilled by the time he was crucified. No salvation, no light for the Gentiles, no glory for God’s people Israel. Yet, even in the face of that, she trusted. Her heart never ceased to beat out the rhythm, fiat, fiat, fiat…

At the Annunciation, just before she proclaimed the fiat that changed everything, the Angel Gabriel called greeted by her title, “Full of Grace”. Let us then beg her, by virtue of her continuous fiat to obtain from her Son every grace we need in our weariness, that we may navigate in trust the thick darkness that surrounds us, as we wait in joyful hope for the glorious dawn which has been promised.

Jesus is himself the Word who sustains us in our weariness, and the word he gives us is a word that we can utter in any circumstance: “Fiat.”Sometimes it is the only word that makes sense. I think of the few Christian souls remaining in the Holy Land, Bethlehem in particular. When the security perimeter (now a wall) went up in 2002, they were crushed in spirit for a time. But today, even though their situation is still dire, and they remain weary, they are not crushed. Their hope is alive because Jesus Christ is alive.

God is on the march dear friends. It may not look promising at this point, but neither did the crucifixion. He will not lose the battle that now rages for souls, and in the end his triumph will be more glorious than we can imagine.

We have now entered the Garden with Jesus. The passion is upon us. Let us not flee for fear of the wolves. Whatever our weariness, even if we feel crushed in spirit, if we but link ourselves to Christ in his passion, we may anticipate with great joy and hope a glorious day of triumph. Let our fiat be one with his and his Mother’s as we place our unshakable trust in God’s Holy Will, as they did.

Our Lady of Fatima: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

 Come Divine Will to reign upon the earth!

Fiat, fiat, fiat…


Prayer suggestions for Holy Week

A few years back I wrote a Way of the Cross for Greater Trust. Please feel free to print, pray, and share it if you wish. (Here it is formatted as a double-sided brochure.)

A very powerful prayer for Holy Week is the 24 Hours of the Passion, as given to Luisa Piccarreta, which has an imprimatur. Praying it in its entirety is ideal, but if that is not possible, consider meditating on part of it on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. God will touch you, guaranteed.

Making up for what is lacking…

Hebrews 7:26-27 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.

Colossians 1:24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

The two scripture passages above—both written by St. Paul—on the surface seem contradictory. Most protestant denominations gloss over the second and don’t really have a theology of suffering. But the Catholic understanding of almost everything in the deposit of faith is not that these two passages are contradictory, but rather that both are true and must be understood together.

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Providence…

Dear friends, as providence would have it, less than a week after my blog post on praying for those who may die suddenly or unprepared, Jim, my own dear husband of 42 years passed away after a chronic illness. The fingerprints of God, his graces and blessings, are all over this event. I am so grateful for those graces, most especially, the following…

+ That I had time to pray a Divine Mercy chaplet in his presence at the hospital unaware that he would not be coming home the next day.

+ That even thought he was not Catholic, in the months leading up to his death, we prayed almost daily together the prayer to St. Joseph and anointed our foreheads with St. Joseph oil from Montreal.

+ That I woke early that morning and, as I often do when I wake early, repeated this prayer several times: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over Jim and over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” As it turned out I was praying this prayer in the final hour of his life. Blessed Mother! Oh Mama! What a gift and sign!

+ Not least of the graces was the grace of those of you who prayed for the souls who would die suddenly or unprepared. You helped my husband in the hour of his death. God bless you!

God is with us, little children! Let us place all our trust in him. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, we love you. Save souls!

For those who will die unprepared…

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)

Being “fishers of people” can take many forms. One does not have to be a vowed religious to be a fisher of people. We are all called to be evangelizers. We can evangelize with our words, our actions, and our prayers. We can evangelize the living, but we can also work for the salvation of those who have already passed, the holy souls in purgatory, or for those who will die suddenly and unprepared, and it seems the numbers of those increase daily.

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Increasing penance…

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.’” (Matthew 23:1-4)

Do you notice how much more you have to pay for torn blue jeans these days? What used to be seen as a sign of abject poverty is now elevated to a status symbol, a fashion statement. I think this can be seen as a metaphor for the spiritual poverty of our age, a sign of the times. It seems many are no longer ashamed of their spiritual poverty, but wear their spiritual dysfunction as a status symbol, a fashion statement. Their spirit may be in tatters, but they’re too cool to care.

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Do not hold this sin against them…

John 12:24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The power of forgiveness. We hear about it, we know about it, and most of us have experienced it. Those of us who take advantage of frequent confession—especially if we are prodigal children returned to the embrace of our Father—know very well the power of forgiveness and what it has meant in our own lives. But have we reciprocated that gratuitous gift to others? This is something we must examine ourselves thoroughly on, for it is one of the criteria we will be judged on and it is the true sign of a humble, contrite, and grateful heart.

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It’s not supposed to be this way…

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Some 20 years ago when my son was a teen, one of the things we used to do together was watch the TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation. One episode in particular keeps coming to me these days. In that episode, the Starship Enterprise had gone through a temporal rift that shifted them into an “alternate reality”, a much darker one. Some who were dead in the previous reality now were not dead. Friends were now enemies and enemies were now friends. No seemed aware of the shift, except for the intuitive bartender, Guinan, who somehow knew and kept repeating, “It’s not supposed to be this way.”

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The gift of your faith…

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

There are two things I often hear from people. The first is that they feel isolated in their faith walk, that in their family, workplace, peer group, or sometimes even their parish there are few people with whom they can openly share their faith. The second thing I hear a lot is that so many people are worried about family members who are far from God. They try everything to bring them to faith, but their words fall on deaf ears. They fear for the souls of these loved ones if they do not repent.

In fact, these two issues are closely related and the good news is that God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, has got it all under control. Yes, dear child of the Father, God has a plan to bring those souls he loves more than you do, back to him. The enemy thinks he has won those souls, but God has a secret weapon. He has strategically placed his agents behind enemy lines. Those agents are none other than his faithful remnant–you and me. Continue reading

Filling in the ranks of the angels…

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.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Matthew 1 : 20-24)

‘Tis the season of angels, it seems. Not only do angels figure prominently in the readings of Advent and Christmas and in every Christmas Nativity scene or play, but they may also be found in shops and as ornaments – from the tacky to the sublime. From the Annunciation, to the dreams of St. Joseph to the “tidings of great joy for all peoples” on Christmas night, angels figure prominently in God’s plan of salvation for humankind.

It is tempting to think of angels as almost incidental to the plan of salvation, interested observers, messengers of God who do his bidding with joy but are not really involved otherwise. Personally, I don’t remember ever giving a thought to what the angels may or may not feel about the salvation of humankind. But something I read once changed that.

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