Mother Mary

Mother Mary

When you think of Mary how do you think of her? Do you think of Our Lady of Fatima who came to call the world to repentance and performed the Miracle of the Sun? Do you think of Our Lady of Lourdes known for healing? Maybe you think of her as Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal or as the Mother of God. She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Queen of Angels, Queen of Apostles, Confessors and so on. Many know her as the Blessed Virgin Mary. One could easily fill a page with all the titles given to Mary.
How we think of Mary is important because it influences how we relate to her. Tone weekend last October I took part in the 2000 Hail Mary devotion and I was struck by the organizers’ attitude toward Mary. They didn’t refer to Mary by any of the titles which suggest Mary’s power but simply referred to her as Mother Mary.
What struck me was the simplicity and yet total confidence they had that Mary would answer our prayers. They simply knew that Mary would grant whatever we asked if it was for the good of our souls. How could she not since she was our loving mother? Why wouldn’t she bless her loving children?
Isn’t it really that simple? Mary is our loving mother given to us from the Cross by Jesus when He said “behold your mother” in John 19:27. As our loving Mother she wants what is good for us and is always ready to go the Father for us if we should ask in prayer. Isn’t Jesus the one who showed us at Cana the power of Mary’s intercession? Isn’t He pleased when we choose to honor His and our mother? Why shouldn’t we expect good things to happen when we go to our Mother?
So often we get distracted by theology and all of the titles and apparitions of Mary that we forget that she is our loving mother to whom we can go to for help just as we would our earthly mother. We forget that there is a relationship with Mary as our heavenly Mother that we develop by our devotions to her? As any priest would tell you we know that she isn’t God but she intercedes powerfully with God. When we honor her as our Mother we obey the Fourth Commandment to honor our mother but we also honor and obey Jesus who gave her to us as our mother.
So often we forget that she is our loving mother. We focus on the call to repentance, the call to prayer and the Sacraments, the warnings of chastisements. We forget that all of this is done because she loves us and wants to protect and save us from all the evil in the world. Isn’t that what a mother does, whatever she can to protect her children from pain? Doesn’t she pray constantly for the conversion of her children because that is what is best for them? Doesn’t she work tirelessly for their reconciliation with the Father?
Don’t earthly mothers sacrifice so much for their children? Don’t they always want what is best for them? Don’t they do what they can to provide their needs? Don’t they seek to protect and guide their children to the best of their abilities? Isn’t this what we expect of mothers? Isn’t this what Mary seeks to do?
Aren’t most mothers approachable? Wasn’t it true that for many of us it was emotionally easier to ask Mom for something and let her go to Dad than to go ourselves? Didn’t we want Mom on our side if we got into trouble or needed help? If earthly mothers can be so good to their children how much better would our Mother Mary be to her loving children? Doesn’t it make sense to think of Mary as our Mother Mary and to develop a relationship with her? Doesn’t it make sense that we can approach our Mother Mary with confidence rather than a weak hope that she would intercede?
The key is to focus on the fact that Mother Mary is our loving mother. We need to remember that we have a loving mother in heaven who wants what is good for us.

Lord, thank You for the gift of such a loving mother. Thank You that we can approach Mary in confidence that she will intercede for all that is good for us. Help me to always think of Mary as my loving mother and honor her as You desire. Amen

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If You Love the U.S.

Now that the perpetuators have been killed or captured is there anything we need to do about the events in Boston on Patriots’ Day? Should we just forget about it, put it in the past and continue with our lives or is there more we should be doing.
Stop and think about all that has happened in America the past 12 months. There were the killings at the theater in Aurora, the slaughter at Sandy Hook in Connecticut, and what seems like daily drive by killings of children in our cities. There was the drought last summer, tornadoes, mudslides, fires, Hurricane Sandy and the flooding this spring in the Midwest. Exactly how many winter storms have we been hit with this year, some even in April?
We see disaster after disaster hit our country and we just keep going on with our lives. Isn’t it time that we did something about it? Shouldn’t we stop pretending that our government can solve these problems? Isn’t it time we seriously turned to God and asked for His help?
Forget the flag waving and the patriotic emails the most patriotic thing you can do for your country is to begin to seriously pray for America every day. One day of prayer is not enough; we need to pray for this country every day.
Don’t pray for any particular party; pray for the American people. Pray that we change and become a people worthy of God’s blessings. Pray for your own conversion and the conversion of all in this nation. Pray for the conversion of any and all politicians. All of them need conversion in some way. Pray for the conversion of those in the media. Pray for a revival in this country and let the Holy Spirit work out the details.
Again if you love this land: pray!

The Narrow Way

The Narrow Gate

Today’s world seems to have forgotten an important part of the gospel. It is the part where Jesus said”Strive to enter the narrow gate, for many I tell you will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” He goes on to say there will be “”wailing and grinding of teeth. The question we must all ask ourselves is whether or not we are on the narrow way or will we be left out “wailing and grinding” our teeth.
Are we on the narrow road? The fact that the road is described as narrow by Jesus strongly implies that it is not the way of the crowd. Rather we should be going against the crowd. We can’t be in step with society and be on the narrow way. We should be walking to the beat of a different drummer. How well are we doing that?
We need to examine ourselves and see how we are doing. Too often we worry about other people and think compared to them I’m not bad. The problem is that God doesn’t compare us to other people or the standards of this age but to His eternal standards.
We need to critically look at ourselves. We may think we’re doing okay. We don’t practice homosexuality, cohabitation, look at porn, use drugs or support abortion. That’s a good start but what about the rest.
What about our worship of God and our prayer life? Do we really have a prayer life or do we only think about God forty-five minutes a week? Are we seeking to do the minimum? I doubt if that would meet God’s standards for the narrow road.
How honest are we at work, with our taxes, with our family? Can we really say our honesty lives up to God’s standards?
What about the way we treat other people? We may not be violent but are our words abusive? Do we injure other people by the things we say including gossip? Are we respectful to those around us?
What about our language? Does our language glorify God and uplift those around us? What about the topics of our conversations? Would you be comfortable having the same conversation with Jesus?
Seriously, what about the things we watch on TV? Would you be watching the same shows if Jesus was sitting in your living room? Would you react the same way to what happens in sporting events? I’m not saying it is wrong to cheer a touchdown or a great play. But what about your reaction when an official blows it or someone gets clobbered?
What about the moral content of the shows we watch? Do they portray married life and sex the way God wants or are they teaching anything goes? Do they teach that violence is easily justified? Do they teach that honesty is pause? Do they teach that it is cool to put people down? You can ask the same questions of movies, music or video games? Are they good-by the world’s or God’s standards?
What about the way we vote? Do we vote for the candidate who is best for our pocketbook, who doesn’t call on us to sacrifice or the one who challenges us to put others and our country first? Do we vote for the most popular regardless of whether that candidate agrees with God’s teachings on life and war?
Do we live by the creed that our country is always right or are we willing to take a stand and speak out when we believe the government is wrong?
How well are we keeping to the narrow way? We can’t follow Jesus and our society at the same time. Too often they are going different directions. Often we notice the big issues like abortion, gay marriage, divorce and cohabitation but we miss the subtle gradual changes in things like TV. TV wasn’t always this bad. It didn’t all of a sudden get this bad but if you look back you’d notice each season it got just a little worse. It was so gradual you didn’t even notice it. Think back to the Seventies. Certain shows were only on cable and late at night. Now regular TV is similar to the shows that were on cable.
The same is true of language. What is acceptable to society has gradually gotten worse. Cohabitation used to be a scandal, something the parents would keep secret, now it is as common if not more common as marriage.
Society’s ways are far from the narrow way we need to follow. Yet it is not too late. As Catholics we are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can start again and receive the grace we need to follow the narrow way? If you have a long way to go be encouraged because you’re not alone and are at least headed in the right direction when you try to change. Many of the saints found themselves in the same position at one point in our lives. Most of us find it a lifetime task to find the narrow path. Maybe that is why we live so long. God in His infinite mercy gives us the time to change and find the narrow path to heaven.

Lord, we ask for the grace we need to honestly evaluate how well we are following the narrow way. We beg for the grace to make the changes we need to make. Thank You for Your infinite mercy. Amen

How Great Is Our God!

How Great Is Our God

How often do we sing or hear Christian music or hymns and not think about the meaning of the words? How often have we sung the song Be Not Afraid and within hours gone back to being afraid? Hasn’t just about every Christian sung the hymn, How Great Thou Art? Do we really remember as I think Chris Tomlin sings How Great is Our God?
Do we really think about how great and powerful God is or do we get overwhelmed by the obstacles and chaos of modern life? Do we look at all the changes in America, the election of the most pro abortion president, the movement towards gay marriage, the spread of sexual infidelity and adultery and throw our hands up in the air in discouragement? Does it make us want to quit? Or do we waste our time complaining and lamenting like the Israelites.
Are we like the Israelites in Exodus?While the Egyptians pursued the Israelites they complained to Moses about bringing into the desert to die; asking whether there weren’t enough burial places in Egypt. This is after all the miracles God had performed to free them in the first place. We know of course that God parted the Red Sea and wiped out the Egyptians.
You’d think that this would impress the Israelites but no they continue to complain and grumble about water and the lack of food, then about the lack of variety of food. When they finally got to the Promised Land they didn’t think about all the miracles they had seen instead they talked of the strength and size of the enemy occupying Canaan and refused to enter. You’d think that they would put their confidence in the God that parted the Red Sea but they didn’t. As a consequence they wandered the desert for forty years until all the adults except Joshua and Caleb had passed away.
Are we like that? Do we look at what is happening and go woe is me? Are we so discouraged by what is happening that we really don’t pray and work for what we know is right? Do we stop praying for the conversion of our family and friends or offer up wishy washy prayers? Do we really remember how great our God is? Do we actually think about the miracles in the Bible?
In one sense we are like the Disciples. Where were they after the Crucifixion? Weren’t they hiding? Didn’t they think it was all over? Did they understand how God was working? Like us they looked around and saw defeat. They had been eye witnesses to the raising of Lazarus, the healing of the paralytic, the calming of the storm, countless healings and the feeding of five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes. They had been taught by Jesus over the course of three years. Yet they were beyond discouraged and ready to quit.
In fact two of them were on their way to Emmaus when they encountered Jesus on the road. They didn’t understand what God was doing and Jesus had to explain it to them. We, with our limited minds don’t understand God’s plan. We look around and see defeat just like the Israelites with the Egyptian army breathing down their necks. Yet at what seemed to them to be the last minute God delivered them. I don’t know how or what God plans now but I know this God wins!
God wins! That is the lesson of the Resurrection. The victory belongs to God. When Satan and even the Apostles thought that Jesus was defeated He walked victoriously, gloriously from the tomb. The victory is al ready won back on the first Easter. Jesus won and will win. He is “the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow” He is still the God of miracles, the Creator of the Universe, who parted the Red Sea and fed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Despite what we feel or think about the current situation He is working out His plan of salvation. Our job is to pray with expectant faith, believing in His ultimate victory and allow Him to use our little resources as He sees fit.

Lord, help us in these dark times to remember how great You are and to pray with pray, trusting in Your victory.

Stay With Me a Little Longer

I wonder how many Catholics realize that Jesus is physically present within us for about twenty minutes after we receive Communion. If we did, maybe that would change our actions after mass. Think about it! You’re probably beeping or yelling at Jesus to hurry up in the parking lot. If you’re quick or run out right after Communion you’re bringing Jesus to the convenience store to get your coffee and paper. You know the one with all the sleazy magazines that you really can’t avoid.
If you really understood would you be rushing to Dunkin Donuts or the grocery or be so quick to talk to people about the weather or ball game? Would you be rushing to the ball game? How would you feel if you were Jesus and someone you loved rushed off to Food Lion or to talk to his buddies about golf?
Think about all the things you see people do after mass. There are those who walk out complaining that the homily was too long. There are those who walk out gossiping about what so and so were wearing. Then there are those in such a hurry they practically run over you. People do these things while Jesus is still physically present. What happened to reverence for the Lord and spending time with Jesus?
What does Jesus think of all this? There is a book of private revelation called God’s Blue Book put out by the Shepherds of Christ and available through the Internet. For your information the church’s position on private revelation is that we do not have to believe it but it will be condemned if it contradicts church doctrine. Before publication this book was read by a Jesuit priest, Father Ed Carter, who found nothing that contradicts the Catholic faith. In it are letters from Jesus to the faithful given to Rita Ring. I’ve read all the letters and have not found anything that contradicted what I know about the Catholic faith. I have found a lot that has also been written in other books written about the Eucharist. These books were written by priests and famous Catholic writers and theologians. The major difference is that this book claims to be the words of Christ.
What does He say? Over and over again He talks about how much He loves us. He loves us so much He suffered the Passion. That wasn’t enough for Him. He loved us so much He wanted to be physically available to us in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle. He is really present in the Eucharist and waits longing for us to come to receive Him and be with Him. He longs to pour graces upon our souls. He longs for us to sit with Him and spend time with Him. He longs for us to come to Him with our problems. In the book He practically begs people to come to Him. He has all we really need and He longs to bless us.
The time after receiving is such a special time. He wants us to focus on Him, to be alone with Him, putting aside all the distractions and spend the time with Him. Bring Him all our needs and just be silent. Tell Him that we love Him. Pray for the people we love. We can tell Him any and every thing we want. We can give Him all our worries, put them in His hands and trust Him to do what is best. Be with Him. Focus on Him and our relationship with Him. We don’t have to talk the whole time just be with Him.
It is such a powerful time that I wonder about even the practice of parishes that say the daily rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet right after weekday mass. On the one hand what more powerful time could there be to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet and ask the Father to have mercy on the world. You have Jesus Himself praying with you. Jesus Himself recommended the prayer. Could there be a more powerful time to say the Rosary for life or for the conversion of sinners?
The best I can figure is to try to be more aware of His presence at that time. Either wait a few minutes longer to begin or be more reverent and prayerful as you assemble. Save the socializing for after you finish. I know in many parishes you can’t wait because people have to leave for work.
I think we all have to try to be more aware of His presence inside us and stay whenever it is possible. If possible stay in the church. But even if we have to leave we can stay in prayer as much as possible while we drive. I know several times I left after communion in order to get to the intensive care unit on time to visit my mom. I continued to pray as I drove. I also know several Catholic school teachers who at times had to leave right after Communion to get to work on time. You do the best that you can. I remember an old priest Father Frank who often began mass with the statement that God is pleased that you made the sacrifice to be there. He is pleased as long as we try to be with Him as long as we can.

Lord, I thank You for your love. I thank You that You love me so much to make Yourself available to me in the Eucharist. Help me to respond to Your love and stay with You in Communion as long as I can. Help me to always remember Your presence and be as reverent as possible. Amen

Our Answer to the World

Did you hear it this weekend at mass in the first reading Acts 5:29, Peter’s answer to all those in the modern world who want the Church to change to be more in tune with the times. “We must obey God rather than men.” Can it be any clearer?
Our purpose is to please God not ourselves. The Church is supposed to obey the Holy Spirit not the laws of misguided governments, current fads or the demands of a society that has forgotten God. It doesn’t matter what society demands only God’s will.
As a society we have forgotten Heaven and Hell. Too many think this is all there is to life, what we have here. They want to create heaven on earth but instead by making greed a virtue and promoting selfishness they have created a living hell. Take a good look at society. Is it really any better? Poverty, crime, abuse, murder, drugs, broken families, child abandonment, abortion, war, terrorism and prejudice still run rampant in our society. All of this can be connected to our failure to follow God.
We argue over God control, we talk about Newtown, Connecticut. But will these things change if we continue to ignore God. Will things not just get worse?
A presidential candidate once asked whether we were better off than we were 4 years ago. My question is whether our society is better off than we were 50 years ago when we started to kick God out of society by making public prayer in schools illegal?
No matter what laws the government passes, no matter what people demonstrate for or demand one thing will not change. Heaven and Hell still exist. When we die we will face God and all of the societal laws and demands won’t matter only His laws and His mercy. We need to remember that.
We should be happy that we are part of a Church that remains true to God’s laws, a church that cares more about whether we get to heaven rather than society’s laws, a Church willing to be persecuted for the truth. We need to support our Church with our prayers, opinions and votes.
If things continue as they are we will be persecuted but remember Acts 5:41 the apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of persecution. Will you be worthy?

Here I Am

There’s a worship song I heard on Christian radio by either Chris Tomlins or Third Day, Here I Am To Worship. I can’t get the lyrics out of my head but I don’t even know the whole song just the chorus I think. It goes like this “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross…”
That’s all I remember but I find the words running through my mind so often. There are times I wake up with the lyrics running through my mind. Often the words run through my mind as I walk into Church or up the aisle to communion. There are times I sing it interiorly during adoration. As I think about it what an awesome song to use to place yourself in the presence of the Lord, just to stop and say here I am, Lord throughout the day just for a few minutes to connect with Jesus.
The words,” here I am” are so powerful in prayer that I find myself using them so often. They have been part of our faith for so long. I believe it was Isaiah who responded to the question of the Lord who will I send, here I am, send me. Both Moses and Abraham are recorded in scripture as saying to God here I am. There are so many different contexts we can pray these three simple words.
Here I am Lord, before You in the Tabernacle to be with You. Here I am in my brokenness with all my weaknesses and sins but I’m here. I’ve come to be with You, to worship You, to comfort You, to console You. I may not be much. I may only be a broken sinner but here I am.
In the Garden You were so alone. You saw before You all the sins of mankind. You saw the indifference of mankind so caught up in the things of the world so busy. You saw the billions who would ignore You and reject Your love. This agony was so terrible that you sweat blood. Nobody cared to console or comfort You. I wasn’t there. I couldn’t be there but here I am now, reaching across time. I long to comfort You, to reach out to You. I don’t know what else to say but here I am, I love You, thank You.
You are so alone. The church is empty. Everyone is gone. How sad and lonely for You but here I am. Here I am to be with You, just to be with You and to love You.
My life is a mess. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do or even how to pray. I don’t even know what to pray for but here I am to be with You. Here I am with my confusion, with my doubts, with my fears, with my worries, and with my problems. Here I am in Your presence. Here I am seeking Your help, Your mercy, Your guidance and love. Here I am, Lord. I need You!
The world is such a mess. There is so much hatred and violence and sin. You are asking for people to be Your hands and feet. You are asking for people to tell others of Your love and mercy. You are asking who will bring Your love to the hurting around us, who will reach out to the lost, here I am.
You are asking for people of prayer. You are asking people to pray for the conversion of sinners, to pray for revival, to pray for vocations. Here I am.

Here I am. I need You. Here I am. I long to know and do Your will. Here I am. I long to serve You. Here I am. I long to be with You. Here I am. I want to spend time with You. Here I am, I long to comfort and console You. Here I am to adore You. Here I am to love You. Here I am to praise You. Here I am to thank You. “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God…”