Monday, January 14, 2019

I've Been Thinking.... About Prayer

A few weeks ago, while I was sitting at Mass I felt like a book wedged between two bookends; two very different bookends, at that. Sitting on one side of me was a family of about 8 (I didn't actually do a head count) and on the other side was a family of 4. 
I must admit both sets of kids were very well-behaved which was nice. (I know I'm starting to sound like a cranky pants with this but it will come in handy further down in the post., I promise). I also want to point out that I didn't sit and stare at all of these people it was just something I observed intermittently throughout the service. The Dad with the larger fam pointed out where we were throughout the Mass, told the kids what pages the hymns were on and really worked at keeping the kids involved and interested in what was going on. The family of 4? Well, they looked like they were being held hostage with no means of escape and with no end in sight. I even snuck a peek at them while saying the Our Father. The Mother was yawning and looking at her watch. The others were equally uninvolved.  Now, I would love to say that I was the attentive parent that taught my son well, but sadly I was the watch monitor to my right during his formative years. Sometimes I did feel like it was a chore bore to get to Mass and trust me, I was raised very well by my parents, I was expected to participate in the Mass as a child,  and was even in the choirs.

Here's the thing, though, Mass is the ultimate form of prayer. It is the ultimate in praise. I can pretty much surmise that if attending Mass weekly is not important to you, if praying at said Mass isn't as well, then there is a woefully shallow chance that you will say daily prayers either. I'm not even going to mention the Bible. That's probably collecting dust on a bookshelf somewhere.  I've been there. I know. Now? I'm one of those people that are like an ex-smoker that will get in your face about smoking or someone who has just found the next great diet and tells everyone how to eat. For me now it's about rattling cages and getting people to open up their eyes to how and for what they are praying.

If you have a home, furniture, heating/a/c, water, electric, a car and a vast wardrobe you have more than Jesus had in life or especially during His ministry days. He had the clothes on his back and the sandals on His feet. That's it. It occurred to me that the homeless, those that do not know where their next meal is coming from, are living a life pretty close to that of Jesus. He even mentions it in the Bible,  "As they were walking along the road someone said to Jesus, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head." Luke 9:58. If I contemplate that it makes me feel very foolish to ask Jesus for anything but I know that should I ask Him for help with say putting food on my table or keeping a roof over my head that He will respond. God knows what we need before we know it and it will be provided be it through our own work or that of another.

Pray with an open heart and without strings, i.e. God, if you let the [insert team name here] win, I will go to Mass this Sunday. Have a daily dialogue with Him. Thank Him for every good thing that you have in life, your health, your home, warmth, food, family. Ask Him for help getting the things that can help you to live a good life here like a job, another job, so that you can not only support yourself and your loved ones but those that are less fortunate than you are as well. Humbly ask him for healing of mind, body or soul for yourself or your loved ones. If it is His will, I assure you He will answer your prayers. If you are meant to live a life of wealth, you will do exactly that. No need to pray to win the lotto.

Pray for your loved ones, your neighbors, your friends. Pray for people that are suffering from health problems or natural disasters. Pray for those that are persecuted and those that have not heard the message of Jesus. Pray for your enemies, your frenemies and even terrorists that they have a conversion of heart. Say morning, afternoon and evening prayers. Say Novenas. Pray the Rosary. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 P.M. Pray before meals, and after. There are so many things to pray for and that's why it is so important to do it every day. That's why attending Mass is so important too. At Mass we do pray for so many as well as praising God. Trust me when I say that anyone that attends Mass regularly, and participates in it, and prays daily is so much more balanced and accepting of their cross in life than any other person you will encounter. The Holy Trinity is the way, the truth and the light and without them, and a personal relationship with them through daily dialogue, life is pretty dark. Pray for grace. Pray for an increased faith and prayer life. Pray for your own redemption and for others. Pray for peace.

Thank God for every thing in your life, even the little seemingly inconsequential things. I thanked Him just this morning because I was able to print shipping labels on a temperamental printer. (I just thanked Him again because I thought I had erased this blog post. whew.)

I wish that I could turn back time to when my son was young. That is the best time to teach children about prayer and all of the Sacraments, but especially the Mass. I've said it in prior posts, faith has to be nurtured throughout life but the seeds have to be planted by the parent. Wishing won't make it happen; actions will. If you are like I was I implore you to immerse yourself in the Mass next time you go. If your child sees that you are interested, they too will be. They want to emulate you but teach them about how important God is. He answers in His time, not yours, make sure you impart that as well. This way, when He does not answer the prayers right away they don't ask Satan for things. It sounds odd to say that, I know, but that is what the pop star Rhianna supposedly told her followers to do. (SMH).

There is so much evil in the world we have to be secure in our faith and relationship with God the Father, God the son Jesus and God the Holy Spirit to withstand it. Prayer is your armor to do just that. Teach yourself to do it well and teach the children.

Have a blessed and beautiful week.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Marian Apparitions and Devotions

Did you know that the Blessed Mother has appeared several times in the Americas? Lots of people know about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the miraculous image on the tilma, which is still studied today and is as bright and beautiful as it was when it was revealed on December 12, 1531.

But, have you ever heard of Our Lady of Good Help? That Marian apparition, which occurred in Champion, Wisconsin, is the first approved one in the U.S.  “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners,” are the first words that Our Mother spoke to Adele Brise on October 9, 1859. As she often does when she appears, Mary gave Adele a mission. "The young woman was told by Heaven’s Queen that she must pray for the conversion of sinners, and warn them, for if they do not convert, her Son was going to punish them. She was told to gather together the children in this remote area and teach them the truths they must know for their salvation; teach them the catechism; teach them how to bless themselves with the Sign of the Cross; and teach them how to approach the sacraments. Our Lady ended by telling Adele, whose faith was strong but simple, to fear nothing and be confident in her help. For the next thirty-seven years of her life, until her death in 1896, Sister Adele Brise was faithful to this mission." Excerpt from Catholicism.Org. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is located at 4047 Chapel Drive, New Franken, WI 54229.

You have heard of the apparition of Medjugorje, which the church warns against venerating as a miracle, as it is NOT approved and under investigation but have you heard of Kibeho? Both commenced in the same year, which was 1981. Kibeho HAS been sanctioned by the church as worthy of veneration.
“The Virgin Mary said that the purpose of Her coming was to communicate a message of conversion (through a life of prayer and confession, a life renewed by the Word of God, and by works of charity and justice).

“She had also stated Her name, `the Mother of the Word', so that one will not mistake Her for another mother: the child to whom She gave birth is God.

“She insisted on the same message of rejection of sin, and recommended the practice of unceasing prayer that keeps us in communion with the Holy Trinity. This is how the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary was discovered."

That same message is a continuation of those received at Fatima, Lourdes, and others ~ pray for sinners, make reparation for the conversion of sinners, turn to her son for forgiveness, receive the sacraments, love each other through works of charity and justice.

Though Mary often speaks of conversion of heart, she has also given seers messages that are more ominous in nature, such as the Our Lady of Good Success narratives, that pertain to this exact moment in history even though they were verbalized to Sr. Mariana de Jesús Torres in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Akita message of 1973 and the Garabandal apparition of 1961-1965 and Fatima of 1917 have all included messages about how angry God is with the world and chastisements. Why would we not listen when things she had said in the past visions have come to pass (WWI, Rwandan genocides)?

Over 1,500 Marian apparitions have been reported in the last century. Only 20 have been sanctioned by the Vatican. Instead of writing a dissertation on what it takes for an approval, I'm just going to quote what the Catholic News Service says about it:

"Like with Fatima, responsibility for determining an apparition's veracity lies with the local bishop, according to the norms established by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The process is never brief, with some cases taking hundreds of years. Visionaries and witnesses must be questioned and the fruits of the apparitions, such as conversions, miracles and healings, must be examined.
According to the norms, the local bishop should set up a commission of experts, including theologians, canonists, psychologists and doctors to help him determine the facts, the mental, moral and spiritual wholesomeness and seriousness of the visionary, and whether the messages and testimony are free from theological and doctrinal error.
A bishop can come to one of three conclusions: He can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or he can say that at the moment, he doesn't know and needs more help.
In the last scenario, the investigation is brought to the country's bishops' conference. If that body cannot come to a conclusion, the matter is turned over to the pope, who delegates the doctrinal congregation to step in and give advice or appoint others to investigate.
Still, the Catholic Church does not require the faithful to believe in apparitions, even those recognized by the church.
Church recognition of a private revelation, in essence, is just the church's way of saying the message is not contrary to the faith or morality, it is licit to make the message public "and the faithful are authorized to give to it their prudent adhesion," now-retired Pope Benedict XVI said in his 2010 apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini" ("The Word of the Lord")."

There is nothing that says that we have to listen to the messages of the Marian apparitions, but seriously, wouldn't it be a prudent thing to do? She is, after all, the woman that carried Jesus in her womb and is His Mother. He gave her to not only John, but to all of us when he was on the cross. Why would we not listen to the Queen of Heaven, on whom Jesus relied on as a child? Did we not listen to our earthly Mothers?

There are a few devotions that are quite beautiful that will help you to convert your own heart to her son and to pray for others. Most notable is the Rosary, which is said daily. You can find the prayers for that at our website's Prayer Page,

Another beautiful devotion is the Miraculous Medal Novena said on Mondays. That includes prayers for conversion of hearts and for special intentions. The wearing of a Miraculous Medal is a sacramental of the church and the novena is so beautiful. That too can be found on our website prayer page. I have had many prayers answered from saying this Novena. God has been good to me.

The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a devotion that includes special graces from our Mother if you say the Little Office, 5-decades of the rosary or do an act of mercy every day that you wear it. The scapular is a sacramental of the church.

The next devotion that comes to my pretty little mind is the Angelus. I say that as part of my daily prayers in the morning. It's an awesome prayer to start the day with as it is the Visitation from the angel telling Mary that she has been chosen to carry the Messiah and her yes, that has resounded through the centuries. We have that on our prayer page too.

The last prayer, or more accurate description, hymn that I would like to mention is The Canticle of Mary, aka The Magnificat. It is Mary's prayer praising God and is just magnificent. Where can you find it? On the prayer page, of course.

There are many prayers and novenas asking Mary to help you find your way back to her Son. Find one that you love and pray it often. Advent is the perfect time to pray anyway, don't you think? Our holy Christmas day will be here in just a few days. Ask Mary to help you. She is after all Mother of us all. Pray for the conversion of hearts. Pray for the conversion of your own heart if you are struggling. Just pray and I can assure you that your life will change.

Have a peaceful and joyful Advent season and God bless you.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

His Divine Mercy

I found this prose today while cleaning out my office. Though a bit rough, it captures my emotions from that day, which were all over the place. It was written on March 2, 2014.

"I was so inspired in the chapel today, so overwhelmed with emotion, that I grabbed my pen and paper. I love the oil painting in there by Ron Gatto and was inspired to write this." Ron owns the copyright on this image but has allowed me to share it.

His Divine Mercy

Lord, your rays of divine mercy engulf my soul.
I feel your forgiveness and unconditional love with each pulse of my heart.
Lord, if I could, I would wash your feet with my tears and let them fall as softly as a morning mist on a meadow
even though they be oceans of tears of regret for not always living my life in your light.
Oh Lord, that I could wipe the sweat from your brow and anoint your wounds with a soothing salve. It was, after all, my sins and those of others that caused your stripes.
I yearn to loosen myself from this world so that I may glorify you and give you thanks and praise
as I should each and every moment of this earthly existence.
Without the temptations of this world, how focused and insular my prayers and thoughts would be.
Make me worthy, Lord, to be with you for all eternity.
I am your humble servant who longs to see your face.
For this I pray,

The cross before me, the world behind me. ~