MARY’S WARNINGS

On February 20, 2015 the Virgin Mary gave a third message to Ivan Dragicevic. All three consecutive messages stated “peace is in danger”:

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“Dear children! Today I invite you to pray for peace, peace is in danger, pray more, pray with the heart. The Mother prays with you and I intercede before my Son for all of you. Thank you, dear children, because also today you have responded to my call.”

I find it interesting that four days later an article was published in the National Catholic Register, by Edward Pentin, reporting serious concerns regarding the British parliament voting on February 3rd, in favor of the creation of babies with the DNA of two women and one man. The United Kingdom is going to make ‘genetically modified babies’ that’s right folks, they’re making babies from three people, of course for a good cause, but doesn’t it always start out that way? and if that were not enough, this week ISIS has reportedly kidnaped at least 220 Syrian Christians. This morning three American men were caught trying to join ISIS. They exposed their plans to hijack a plane diverting it to the Islamic State. They planned on joining the military solely to attack our soldiers. They also talked about killing our U.S. Law enforcements, bombing Coney Island, and threatening to cause harm to our President. It is great that they were caught, but how many were not? What other plans are taking place as you read this that we do not know about?

IMG_2405I take Mary’s warning serious and I think we all should. It’s time to take out our rosary’s and pray for peace, security and safety. We think these things can not happen in America, but it can, remember 9-11 and the still missing Malaysia plane with 3 Americans and 7 children on board. We need protection for our families, our Country, and our global world. Why aren’t we praying for this in our churches? Perhaps, each of us can ask our pastor to add this prayer to the petitions. Or contact the Liturgy and Worship office of our Diocese to add it on Sundays too. We could ask all parish ministry’s to also pray many of our parishes have Rosarians, prayer groups, scripture studies, respect for life groups, etc. We can make a difference if we decide to unite in prayer.

In Fatima, Mary was warning us of danger and threats too.  Pope John Paul II took her seriously and invited everyone to pray hard, people did and we were spared. I have copied a piece of the consecration he made for all men and women to her Immaculate Heart. I thought it would make a great meditation and prayer during Lent. You can read the whole Fatima message by clicking on Vatican. TOGETHER LET US PRAY TO BRING ABOUT PEACE!

In order to respond more fully to the requests of “Our Lady”, the Holy Father desired to make more explicit during the Holy Year of the Redemption the Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, which had been repeated in Fatima on 13 May 1982. On 25 March 1984 in Saint Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world, who had been “convoked” beforehand, entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in terms which recalled the heartfelt words spoken in 1981: 

“O Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples. 

In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated. 

‘We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God!’  Despise not our petitions in our necessities”. 

The Pope then continued more forcefully and with more specific references, as though commenting on the Message of Fatima in its sorrowful fulfillment

“Behold, as we stand before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, we desire, together with the whole Church, to unite ourselves with the consecration which, for love of us, your Son made of himself to the Father: ‘For their sake’, he said, ‘I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in the truth’ (Jn 17:19). We wish to unite ourselves with our Redeemer in this his consecration for the world and for the human race, which, in his divine Heart, has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation. 

The power of this consecration lasts for all time and embraces all individuals, people and nations. It overcomes every evil that the spirit of darkness is able to awaken, and has in fact awakened in our times, in the heart of man and in his history. 

How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church. 

The present Year of the Redemption shows this: the special Jubilee of the whole Church. 

Above all creatures, may you be blessed, you, the Handmaid of the Lord, who in the fullest way obeyed the divine call! 

Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son! 

Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love! Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world. 

In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals, and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart. 

Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future! 

From famine and war, deliver us. 

From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us. 

From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us. 

From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us. 

From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us. 

From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us. 

From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. 

From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us. 

From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us. 

Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. 

Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the ‘sin of the world’, sin in all its manifestations. 

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil ! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!”.(4) 

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE ARE AT WAR

Believe it or not, we are at war, a spiritual war and we see this most clearly during this first week of Lent. The Church has two Sunday scripture readings that reflect this war with evil, our thoughts, and our pride. One, the Gospel of Mark 1: 12-15 speaking about how immediately following Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for 40 days to suffer temptation. How many of us are already there in the desert? Suffering from illness, loss of work, addicted children, mental illness, caring for aging parents, divorce, grieving a loved one, etc., and feeling temptation to relieve ourselves from our sufferings. Our pride crying out, “why me?” Well, why not me? If it happened to Jesus why wouldn’t it happen to me?

Let’s face it, whether we like it or not we are in a spiritual battle.St. Michael

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12

Pope Francis speaks further about this battle and temptations when he says,

For this reason read the Gospel every day and reflect on its meaning, even for just 10 minutes and carry around a copy in one’s pocket or bag every day. The Lenten wilderness, he continued, “helps us to say ‘no’ to worldliness, to “idols”, it helps us to make courageous choices in line with the Gospel and to strengthen our solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

I can remember a time I was physically in the desert of Sedona, Arizona. I had climbed a mountain where the last 50 feet had me crawling, on my hands and feet. When I reached the top and sat on the highest rock, I laid down to look into the sky (heavens) and listen to God speak. I became overwhelmed by fear for no reason, and I immediately related it to Jesus in the desert on a mountain being tempted by the devil. I felt the three temptations He did. The first hunger, only mine was not for physical nutrients, but pride and ego.

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The second temptation was the desire for success, to be on top, where everything goes smoothly with luxury and comforts. This temptation is where the devil showed Jesus the kingdoms he could possess and rule. Again this temptation is about pride. The third temptation was fear of everything including the self and the devil enticed Jesus to jump off of the mountain to gain control and security on His accord instead of waiting on God. Another temptation of pride and I too felt the need to jump to safety. The fear was gaining power over my thoughts as I imagined the small rock holding my body crumbling to the ground and me falling to my death or would God save me? Then I remembered how Jesus overcame this temptations by dying to self and facing His enemy.

“The phrase, ‘You must die before you die,’ is found in most of the world religions. If you don’t learn how to die early, you spend the rest of your life avoiding failure. When you can free your True Self, the whole spiritual life opens up.” —Richard Rohr

Pope Francis reminds me of this when he points out that each time the devil tempts Jesus, He is able to overcome the temptation by reciting scripture back to the devil. If we do not know the scriptures we could fail.

The desert is the place where the voice of God and the voice of the tempter can be heard. In the noise, in the confusion, this cannot be done; only superficial voices can be heard. Instead, we can go deeper in the desert, where our destiny is truly played out, life or death.

And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in his Word. For this reason, it is important to know Scripture, because otherwise we do not know how to respond to the attacks of the evil one. And here I would like to return to my advice of reading the Gospel every day. Read the Gospel every day! scriptureMeditate on it for a little while, for ten minutes. The Lenten desert helps us to say no to worldliness, to the “idols.”

Pride is a good thing to shed during Lent, at least for me. One of the problems I often experience when I attempt to shed my pride is it is hard to kill, it is like a cat with nine lives. I believe Jesus was able to empty Himself in the desert for 40 days as this scripture reveals,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

In addition to the topic of killing our pride, temptation and dying to self Genesis 9:8-15 describes another form of death, the death of life. This could be a toxic relationship we were unable to let go of or the end of anything we loved and didn’t want to die. What is helpful to remember is that whatever kind of death we experience that God allows it will always be followed by His promise of new life; by the rainbow after every storm. rainbowIf we look closer at Genesis, we see that the righteous protected themselves from the storm by hovering in the arch. The arch for us, today can be found in the Church. We run for cover every Sunday and some of us at daily mass to gather in the arch sheltering ourselves from the storm. We drink from the well of the Eucharist to conquer the evil that desires to steal us away from dying to our former selves and prevent us from new life. We are nourished by the Church when we consume Christ in the form of body and blood.

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

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Lent is a time of spiritual combat, Pope emphasizes

Pope at Angelus: Lent is a time of battle against evil

#5 PRESCRIPTIONS OF DISCIPLINE FOR LENT

Ash Wednesday 2This statement by Diane McKelva is a sentiment I share as well. 50 Shades of Grey is currently the #1 movie and on the lips of every American, t.v., magazine, newspaper, and radio. What I would rather hear on everyone’s lips is the 50 shades of grey placed on our foreheads during Lent. Lent is an important Liturgical Season that gives us an opportunity to change, change our thoughts and hearts from sinfulness to Christ, and we have 40 days to make that happen. During the year, we tend to fall away from our disciplines of striving for holiness and our hearts begin to harden. Lent is a good time to refocus and work hard to till our hearts so they can soften and let love enter.

  The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say,

The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.25 Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!”26 God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:27

Pope Francis talks about changing your heart too, in his Lenten message, 2015,

“During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.”

There are five disciplines known to change a hardened heart, and they are named disciplines for a reason. Disciplines are not easy, they take practice and sacrifice, but if we make allowances in our schedule we will master the disciplines to create needed change.

#1. PENANCE~ Pope Francis knows well the importance of forgiveness he was the first of the clergy to go to confession before giving the Sacrament to others. There is healing in receiving absolution for our sins. We often need to forgive others who have hurt us and we may need to forgive ourselves too.

Pope Confessing

Pope John Paul II, who frequented the Sacrament of Confession on a weekly basis, said:

“We live in a society that seems to have lost the sense of God and of sin. Christ’s invitation to conversion is all the more urgent.“It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation. Those who go to Confession frequently and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives.”

#2. GO TO MASS~ Attempt a daily mass in addition to Sunday mass for extra strength from the Eucharist during Lent. Mass is where heaven touches earth, and our prayers join with the community, clergy, saints and angels that have touched down to pray with us and for us.

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church

1436 Eucharist and Penance. Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist, those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. “It is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.”35

#3. PRAY~ There is so much power in prayer I could sit here and write forever about the miracles I’ve witnessed and experienced through its power. Mary Mother of God has said at Fatima that the rosary is a weapon against Satan and has the power to stop wars. We forget how powerful prayer is, and Lent is a good time for us to add it to our daily routine.

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Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

#4. READ SCRIPTURE~ Every day take some time to read the daily Scriptures, the Psalms or any passage that strikes you. Scripture is alive and will touch your heart deeply.

IMG_3126The Catechism of the Catholic Church

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

#5. CHARITY~ Taking the focus off of ourselves and putting it onto others not only allows us to bless them, but it opens our eyes to see how much we are blessed. Love is sacrifice and unless we give until it hurts it does not go deep enough to heal. Mother Teresa says it best

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If we practice, the five prescribed disciplines listed above transformation will happen during the next 40 days. I’ve only listed five; there are others such as these suggestions Ash Wednesday 3

You may have ones that are not listed that you have found helpful, please add them to the list by commenting below.

 CITATIONS:

“Part Two Section Two Chapter Two Article Four 1432, 1436, .” Compendium, Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Print.

“PART ONE THE PROFESSION OF FAITH SECTION ONE “I BELIEVE” – “WE BELIEVE” CHAPTER TWO GOD COMES TO MEET MAN ARTICLE 3 SACRED SCRIPTURE 105.” Compendium, Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006. Print.

BUILDING BRIDGES

About a month ago I attended a two-day summit on marketing new and social media with editors from popular publications such as Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. I sat there taking notes for a few hours before I realized I was the only one taking notes. Wondering what I was missing, I began to scan the room more carefully and noticed that some were taking notes just not on paper. They were taking notes on their smartphones. Times sure have changed, and it brought into focus the generation gap between us. I’m certain, if I asked them, why they preferred taking notes that way as opposed to my way; they would have given me a list, and I would have felt more uncomfortable.

There have been many discussions, among my children, about how I need to step up my game to align with the times. They think their way is better than my way and I resist them as they try to impose it on me whatever it may be. How often do we find ourselves looking crooked at someone who does not do things the way we do them? It is easy to learn something new and then scoff at those who haven’t or just don’t see what we see. It reminds me of a story I heard once about St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas. They were both studying at college sharing many of the same classes, but held very different positions on concepts of Theology. They argued all the time over almost everything. Their disputes got so heavy; there is a legend that St. Bonaventure locked St. Aquinas in his basement and wouldn’t let him out until he changed his position and saw things the way he did. Well…as you can imagine it didn’t work, and they both got over it and went on to become saints and doctors of the church held in high esteem today. I like this story because it shows that even when we stoop low in our human weakness we can still be forgiven and become saints.

This story also reminds me of how often I do the same dumb thing when I wrestle with God because I want Him to see things my way. I want him to do things that I want him to do when I want him to do it. Writing this I can hear how immature and ridiculous this sounds and it is, and I know better, yet I still find myself at times in this position. Bonaventure discovered as did I, the Holy Spirit is working through others the same way that it is working with me even if I don’t agree with or even like a person much. It is when we respect the Holy Spirit working in that person in spite of our differences that a bridge can be made leading others to Christ.

Building the bridge takes swallowing our pride and becoming humility. Easier said than done I know because the simple truth is Bridges get stomped on. The word Humility as a noun form of the adjective “humble”; also “humbleness.” Old French, Latin, humilis (lowly, low to the ground” humus (ground, dirt). So humility is associated with dirt and if you are a visual learner, please excuse my graphic use of pictures depicting what you can expect when you become “dirt” in humility.

poopYou will get pooped on (metaphorically speaking, of course)!

garbageYou will get dumped on!

deathThings will die on you; e.g. relationships and projects you love.

ha haYou will be the butt of jokes.

It doesn’t look very pretty does it? Nor does it look like anything we would want to be a part of right? I guess this is why Jesus sweats blood, but like the scripture says, I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24

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When we take the focus off of ourselves and onto others in humility accepting the dung without grumbling and wrestling with God, then we can produce the harvest for the Lord. This upcoming Lent I invite you to build bridges of humility with me. It won’t be easy, but if we share our stories and progress along the way we will encourage one another to complete our bridges.

bridgeHere is a good article on defusing an argument over a disagreement http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/02/11/how-to-defuse-an-argument/

WHO IS GOD, BUT US?

LENT, it seems to sneak up on us so quickly we tend to forget to prepare. I am giving you a heads up to contemplate what it means to you and how you will spend it this year. Ash Wednesday is February 18th, and a great time for reflecting and penance to grow closer to Jesus. On this spiritual journey, we acknowledge his deep abiding love for us, and we recognize how much he suffered and sacrificed. This acknowledgment opens us to extend that love to others.

Many of us, think about what we will give up for Lent as a sacrifice to show God how much we love him in return. With this in mind, Pope Francis has given us some direction when he asked the question, “wondering what to give up for Lent? Try indifference” He stated our hearts grow cold when we continually think and worry about ourselves. In his Jan. 27th, Lenten message, he said, when we live a healthy and comfortable lifestyle, “we forget about others.” You can read the full article here Catholic News Agency

Fr. Peter Schineller S.J., gives an example of this indifference Pope Francis is speaking about and how to turn it around in this 3 minute and 24 second clip. 

Whatever it is we choose to give up for Lent, may it bring us closer to Jesus in the people we begin to love and may it open our eyes to see Him in every person we encounter.

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ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND??!!

Many of us can say that we love our families dearly, and we can’t imagine life without them. But, let’s get real and admit that some of our family members are “OUT OF THEIR MINDS.” Better yet, some of our family members think that we are “OUT OF OUR MINDS.” This reaction is quite reasonable, especially when we are true to ourselves by walking down a different path than others. Whenever, we don’t follow the so called, “prescribed norms” people pull away from us. They don’t understand what would lead us to choose this way of life and often fear sets in and exasperates the situation. I can remember discovering that God had a deeper purpose for my life and I began studies to enter the Third Order Franciscans. My family truly thought I was “OUT OF MY MIND” as a matter of fact, so did most of my friends. I am sure that you too have experienced this same reaction under different circumstances with whatever your calling may be. Did you know that when Jesus was old enough to begin his public ministry his family thought he was “OUT OF HIS MIND” and went to great lengths to “reel him in?” Everyone was buzzing about him, and I am sure that made things worse and his family more anxious. Mark 3: 20-21

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Can you imagine the scene and how embarrassing it must have been for him and his family? We have all been there in some way or another as we walk down a different path. God places his desire so deep within our heart’s that sometimes we cannot not answer his call. Saints and clergy are no exceptions; there are many stories stating the same. Right now people are buzzing about Pope Francis. They just don’t understand him, his ways and much of what he says, if you can believe that. Many writers have taken to explain him in hopes that people will better understand him and put aside their fears. One such article written by Thomas Peters, “Feeling devastated by what Pope Francis says?” Try these 3 helpful tips. Click this for full article

  1. Pope Francis will not change church teachings.
  2. Unlike previous popes, he speaks in idioms like, Spaniards.
  3. Keep in mind that when he speaks to the public media he is choosing to speak to non-Catholics.

These are helpful tips for some and being in the public eye affords him the chance to have someone explain himself to others. We, on the other hand, are not as fortunate. It is probably safe to say that most likely no one is going to write a book or article explaining to our haters why we do or say the things we do. We are forced to go it alone at least in the physical sense. We take our hits and learn to find the joy in it as St Francis did. St. Francis, understood joy like no other and there is a true story where he explains it to Brother Leo. I’m giving you the shortened version.

brother leo and francis

“So, Brother Leo, the conclusion is this: The Spirit’s best gift, His highest grace, Christ gives to His friends: To conquer self for Jesus’ sake; this makes us willing to go through sufferings, hurts, rejections, troubles of all sorts. We cannot glory in other gifts because they come from God, not us. So why compliment yourself for what God does? But we can glory in troubles and sufferings—they are outs. That’s why St. Paul says, ‘I glory only in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ To Him belongs respect, also reverence, until the world’s end. Amen”

(Excerpt taken from The Little Flowers of St. Francis A Paraphrase by Donald E. Demaray)

To be considered by others “OUT OF YOUR MIND” when you are following your vocation/ God’s will in your life, means two things.

One, It is a good indicator that you are living the Gospels and affecting people by your example.

Two, you are just like Jesus’ mirroring Him as He intended brave and courageous by trailblazing.

Remember you are not alone on your journey for many have gone before you experiencing the same. Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.

~Rev. John Campoli I.V. DEI~ During this year of Consecrated Life please pray for all the consecrated asking God’s strength and blessing as they endeavor to follow his call more closely. As Blessed Paul VI pointed out: “Without this concrete sign there would be a danger that the charity which animates the entire Church would grow cold, that the salvific paradox of the Gospel would be blunted, and that the “salt” of faith would lose its savor in a world undergoing secularization”

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE REALIZE WE ARE NO LONGER IN CONTROL?

We all experience the pains of suffering through hardships. Whether those hardships are brought on by us or lured by those we love and trust, it still is painful. At some point, after undergoing much suffering we come to the realization, we are no longer in charge. Unfortunately, for most, this takes a longer time then we want it to. Until, we reach this point, chaos and drama ensue. If we don’t keep firm boundaries to protect us, our relationships can quickly turn toxic, and we can become slaves to sin. Then we fall onto a long, hard and scary rollercoaster ride. This ride can turn into the longest ride of your life. When and how we get off depends upon us.

rollercoaster

Over the Holiday’s I was fortunate to have deep conversations with four recovering heroin addicts who gave me insights into this roller coaster ride and how to get off. When I asked the one girl how she was doing with her sobriety her response was not quite what I was expecting. I asked her about it, because it was the Holiday’s, and I know how difficult they can be for many people, especially those battling addictions. I thought talking about it might help her in some way, it turns out she may have helped me more than I, her.

She shared with me how she gets by one moment at a time. I asked her what were her bottoms that lead her to sobriety? She said, “ that was a tricky thing because, you would have thought that getting incarcerated would have been her bottom, but it wasn’t. You would have thought that giving birth in prison was her bottom, but it wasn’t. You would have thought to have her child taken from her forever, would have been her bottom, but it wasn’t. She continued, every time she reached what appeared to be her bottom she found another level of bottom. The bottom of the floor just kept moving lower as though there were a trap door.” I asked her if that were the case then what convinced her that she needed to stop? What was it that finally broke her? Her reply, “I got exhausted…. I was so sick and tired of the toxic cycle. I craved the drug and would do anything to get it, and then I would do it, and then I would need it again. It was a rollercoaster that never stopped. I finally realized my decisions were not getting me anywhere good. I could no longer trust my choices or myself; I could not be in control of my life anymore. It was only when I let go and let God take over that I was able to get off the rollercoaster a transformed person.”

Her response amazed me, I never heard someone tell it quite like that. Her brutal honesty was incredibly beautiful. On New Year’s Eve I was at a party and had a deep conversation with another recovering heroin addict, and he shared a similar story. His breaking point was exhaustion too; he couldn’t take the roller coaster any longer. The vicious, toxic cycle would exhaust him and make him sick. When he could no longer take it and gave up control to God, God healed him. He has been in sobriety now for nine years and never wants to go back. The other two men, one of them being 21 years old has the same story. What appeared to be the worst thing that could have happened to them, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. It provided them the means to get clean and regain their faith. The 21-year-old confided the sin was killing his soul, and it was haunting him.

Isn’t this the way it is for us too, in many of our life circumstances? Maybe we don’t hop on the addiction rollercoaster, maybe a difficult person or situation throws us on a different roller coaster, and we stay there thinking we can fix things. We take control of what is not for us to control then we sit there baffled, because things are not going the way we had planned; our pride doesn’t let us, let go. The roller coaster becomes our pathway to sin. The good news is when we wake up from exhaustion and realize we have been the one driving the roller coaster out of control, and then we notice Jesus next to us waiting for us to surrender. He takes over and not only forgives us, but he heals us and remembers our sins no more.

Remembering a story of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. After receiving a number of visions of Christ, she told her confessor about them. He suspected the visions were fabrications and gave her some discerning questions to ask the Vision in order to determine its true source. When she recounted all of Christ’s replies, he was still not convinced. He told her to go back and ask, “What sins did I confess yesterday?” She did and returned to the confessor confused. The confessor asked her, “What did he say?” She replied, “He told me he did not know your sins. He has forgotten.”

This example is what we should remember. However, horrible a sin we commit God forgives us and if we hold onto that sin not forgiving ourselves we commit another sin of pride.

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“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25

PICK YOUR SAINT FOR 2015 RIGHT HERE

There is a Franciscan tradition of picking a Saint for the coming year. The belief is that the Saint picks you to help you through all that you encounter in the year ahead. A special bonus to your life, a guardian Saint to walk with you and your guardian angel. I can remember every Feast of the Epiphany the Friars would host a staff party, and we would pick our new Saints and share who we received. We always learned something new. I used to carry this tradition into our Franciscan Fraternities as well. I remember researching Franciscan saints, printing out the information, cutting them into slips of paper, putting them all in a basket. Whew…..it sure was time-consuming and now with today’s technology I don’t have to do that anymore and neither do you. Jennifer Fulwiler has created a Saint generator that does all of the work for you, what a brilliant idea. Thank you, Jennifer! This year I got a Franciscan Saint, Paschal Baylon. He joined the Reformed Franciscan Order as a lay brother, I find it interesting the connection between him and me as Lay Franciscans. He was born on the feast of Pentecost, and I was professed into the Franciscan order on the feast of Pentecost. He was a mystic and is patron Saint of Shepherds, Eucharistic Congresses, and Eucharistic Associations. We both share a love of the Eucharist how divine.

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Now it’s your turn, all you have to do is click the link below and then pray before you press the generator button. I would love to hear which Saint you’ve received to help you in 2015, please don’t forget to share.

Happy New Year!

http://jenniferfulwiler.com/saints/

#5 BASIC STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

happy-new-year-fb-cover-photos

It’s almost the end of 2014, and radio stations, T.V., magazines, and newspapers have already begun evaluating this year. Some have chosen the Hollywood stars that wore it best and worst, the best news of the year vs. the most destructive and life changing. The famous people who have died and what they have accomplished in their lives that have touched the hearts of Americans. These stories and segments inspire us to evaluate our personal lives and what we experienced as the best and the worst moments. For some reason, we tend to focus more on our worst moments than the good ones. These worse moments inspire us to self improve so we can be more successful and happy. We look to the coming year of 2015, with the hope to bring us only the good, so we set out to ensure this will happen by creating New Year’s resolutions. Before you begin your list, let’s take a closer look at the failures and successes of resolutions so we can plan more accordingly and achieve success.

The University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology did a study on the top ten New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

1.      Lose weight

2.      Getting Organized

3.      Spend less, save more

4.      Enjoy life to the fullest

5.      Staying fit and healthy

6.      Learn something exciting

7.      Quit smoking

8.      Help others in their dreams

9.      Fall in love

10.   Spend more time with family

These were good goals, but, unfortunately, the study showed that out of 45% of the Americans that made these New Year’s resolutions only 8% were successful in achieving their goals, why is that? Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, also wanted to know why, so he arranged a study of analysis using 700 people and their strategies in trying to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. He found, those that failed had focused on the negatives of not achieving the goals; they dreamed about reaching their goals, and relied on willpower alone as though it would magically manifest into reality by itself. They didn’t take enough action to do something that would make it happen at least not consistently.

On the other hand, the analysis revealed the reasons behind the 8% being successful. First, they created short, tangible goals with strategies to achieve them. Wiseman said,”Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it.” The study showed that if people follow the five basic strategies used by these participants that they will raise their chances to succeed by 50%. Here are the five

1.   “Breaking it down” each goal has to be broken down into smaller steps by formulating how you are going to achieve it. For example, to spend more time with family your strategy may be to shut off all forms of electronics from social media, email, computers, t.v., phone, etc., from 4-8pm every day. Or your strategy may be to plan every Sunday with a family outing a game day, or a family movie, etc. This break down of your goal makes it more tangible and achievable.

2.   “Reward yourself” every time you achieve a step in the process reward yourself. By doing so, you will train yourself to look at your progress in a more positive and productive way, and you will feel great knowing your one step closer to success.

3.  “Tell your friends” by telling your friends your goals and sharing your progress with them you make yourself more accountable. Your friends become a support system to help you get over the challenges you may incur along the way.

4. “Focus on the benefits” being positive reaps positive responses you attract what you give and the more you give, the more you get.

5. “Keep a diary” of your progress lays out for you your journey, and you can clearly see how far you’ve gone and how much you have achieved. This clarity will give you the incentive you need to keep moving forward.

You may want to consider making only one or two goals instead of ten. Remember that occasional mishaps are only temporary set backs the key to managing is staying positive. Before starting your list of New Year’s resolutions, write down each disappointment from 2014 on separate pieces of paper. Feel the emotion for a few moments even if it’s painful, then forgive yourself for letting it happen and the other for hurting you. In an outdoor fire pit or fireplace burn them and as you watch the fire consume the paper let it go forever up with the smoke to heaven. Then get yourself a box, mine looks like this

chest

yours could be anything that works for you and write down every precious, good, thing that happens to you throughout 2015 and put it in the box. You can wait until this time next year as 2015 is ending or you can choose a time your feeling down to read those positive notes to inspire you to stand tall and stay focused and place yourself in that 8% of those who have achieved their goals and then some.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! to you and all of your loved ones.

Peace and all Good (Pax et Bonum) ~DAWN~

For those of you looking for a new app to help you achieve your new goals check this app out

You can read the full article of Richard Wiseman’s analysis at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/28/new-years-resolutions-doomed-failure

PREGNANT WITH CHRIST

the journey

Mary and Joseph were on their way to Bethlehem journeying through the rocky terrain. Mary at this time was most likely in her 9th month of pregnancy. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 80 miles. As a woman, I cringe at the thought of being nine months pregnant riding a donkey with steep inclines over treacherous rock terrains. Aside from all the stop’s to eat , also try to imagine how many bathrooms breaks she would have needed. This journey on foot would have taken about four days! Since Mary would have needed to make many stops along the way, this would make a seemingly shorty journey into about a week. Like most women during pregnancy, we grow closer to our spouses and share an intimacy that binds us together forever. Mary’s story from the annunciation to the nativity, mirrors our lives and our growing relationships we encounter with God.

annunciation

You may be questioning my last statement so let’s break down today’s Gospel about the annunciation to understand what I mean. I marvel at God asking Mary’s permission first, and her responding”yes” to conceive in her womb the Christ child. Think about this, no one at the time believed the Messiah would come into the world by a virgin conceived by God. They hoped and believed that the child they carried and conceived by their spouses would turn into the Messiah. This concept of being miraculously conceived is not only a surprise, but raises many questions and brings with it fear. “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” Isn’t this similar to our lives when we encounter God through prayer, “how can this be? What??? are you sure?” Panic and fear sets in so the Angel like our friends and family reminds Mary of what God has already accomplished. Sometimes being reminded of the past helps us to move forward into the future. God miraculously opened the barren womb of Elizabeth, her relative to conceive a son in her old age and is now in her sixth month of pregnancy. This event had to be on everyone’s lips at the time, but Mary needed to be reminded to dispel her fear and increase her trust and faith in God.

Visitation
Mary sets out to visit her cousin, which may be the only other living person that knows what it is to be an agent of God’s almighty power. To prepare her for the upcoming events of her life, she needs to share her experience with Elizabeth and learn from her. Who else is going to believe her as Elizabeth will? As Mary travels down the roads leading to her cousin, I picture her contemplating what is happening inside of her. All the changes she must have experienced both physically and spiritually, and I imagine her singing this song to God along the way.

As you ponder and prepare in the coming days leading to Christmas reflect on how Mary’s encounter with God simulates our relationship with God. Remember what God has already done throughout history and how our encounter with God is filled with Grace. Grace that holds us in the palm of his hand and invites us to birth Christ to all of God’s people longing for Him this Christmas. Thank you for subscribing to my blog through emails. Be assured of my prayers and best wishes for you, your family and your mission in Christ during this Christmas Season. May your “yes” to God envelope those you encounter with love and be the blessings they need.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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