Living In The Spirit

I believe that God loves me more intensely than I can ever imagine. His love is everlasting and nothing can separate me from His love. My name is written on the palm of His hand. He knew and loved me before I was even conceived. I am unique and special to Him. No one can ever take my place.
I believe that God’s plans for me are good not evil. I may not know what those plans are or understand them but I believe His plans for me are better than any I could imagine.
I believe that He is my shepherd and there is nothing I shall need. Just like with the Israelites in the desert and their manna He will provide each day what I need when I need it.
I believe that His timing is perfect. There are many, many times I don’t understand His timing but His timing is perfect and someday, looking back at my life I will understand His perfect timing.
I believe that all things work for the good of those who love Him. All of the pain and suffering is not wasted. He is preparing me for a future role I don’t yet see but it is good. All of the pain in my life has value as He prepares me to serve and glorify Him.
I believe that God wants to use me. This gives my life meaning. I get to serve a mighty awesome God, the Creator of everything. It doesn’t matter what people think or say because it is God I serve.
I believe that God wants me to worship Him and adore Him. I believe that He wants me to come to Him with all of my joys and troubles.
I believe that with God all things are possible. No problem is too big if I go to God and wait on His perfect timing. He waits for me to come with my problems.
I believe that with God’s help I can learn to control my anger, my drinking, my smoking or whatever other problem or addiction I may have.
I believe that on my own I can do nothing but mess things up. Therefore I resolve to go to God every day, seek his help and to do His will as well as I can
I believe in a personal God who cares about every aspect of my life and knows me intimately. This means I believe Jesus is my savior, my lord, my redeemer, my rescuer, my rock, my stronghold, my shelter, my strength and my song, my hope, my healer , my provider, my protector, my shepherd, my teacher, my guide, my everything.
I believe that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, that just as He healed people 2000 years ago He still heals people today.
I believe that Jesus reaches out to us today through His Church, His Sacraments and through His Holy Spirit.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in today’s world, that He still touches and blesses people who are open to Him and that He works through those who are willing to be used by Him to touch others.
I believe that all of us can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to work wonders, to bless people and to draw people closer to Christ if we would only open our hearts to Him.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is looking for people willing to be His hands and feet, to serve and to be used by Him; that He is also seeking people to serve as prophets and deliver His message of love and mercy to a world desperate for God.
I believe that with God there is always more He has to give us, more ways He can bless us and more ways He can use us.

Isn’t this what it means to live a full Catholic life? According to John 10:10, Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. We were meant for better than the watered down powerless faith that so many of us have been practicing. God has so much more for us, so many more gifts, blessings and missions. He longs to pour His spirit and love upon us. He longs to work through our hands and feet, touching the world with His love. He passionately wants to use us to bless those around us.
The world is so messed up. Our churches are empty. Sin is rampant. You almost can’t turn on the TV. Marriages are broken. Marriage seems irrelevant to many. Children are hurting. So many seem lost. Cancer and other diseases seem to be epidemic. Then there’s abortion, addiction, same-sex marriages.
The world considers us to be out of touch at best and repressive more often. Why?
We are irrelevant because we’ve ignored the Holy Spirit. Too much of the church has ignored His promptings and failed to use the gifts we received at Confirmation. Confirmation was much more than a slap on the cheek, a rite of passage or the opportunity for a party and cash gifts. We were anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We are meant to do wondrous things. Jesus promised that through His Spirit we would do greater works than He and He doesn’t lie. If we open ourselves up to His Spirit and allow Him to work through us we will indeed see wonders, we will do things we’ve never dreamed possible.
We are called to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. The life that God has for us is so much better than the life we are living. We were meant for more than going through the motions and attending mass every Sunday. The world needs us. We operating through the power of the Holy Spirit are God’s answer to our problems. Open your hearts, your mind and soul and allow God to use you to change the world.

Pray For Your Priests

As I wrote before, August 4th is normally the feast of St John Vianney, a good time to thing about our priests and what they go through. A fried wrote in response that we need to pray for our priests. How often do we go to our priests and ask them to pray for a special intention of ours? How often do we think that we should be praying daily for our priest? We think because he is ordained he is holier than we are and doesn’t need our prayers but the reality is far different.
Ordination doesn’t mean Father isn’t going to be attacked by Satan. It means that Satan will send the heavy hitters to attack him. It is far more efficient to attack Father and mess up his ministry then to attack all the parishioners in a parish. We need to pray for the angels to protect Father and the Holy Spirit to guide him in his ministry. We should offer up a prayer every time we see him, every time we go to mass and to confession.
This is especially true of priests who try to promote a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Satan will do everything possible to keep people from a real devotion to the Eucharist because he knows that devotion to the Eucharist is what changes lives.
Mary has repeatedly asked people to pray for the priests in her locutions to Father Gobbi. On page 70 of the Pieta Prayer book, Jesus is quoted as telling people to pray for their priest rather than complain. If we disagree with a priest the first place we should go with our disagreement is to God.
It is important whether we agree with Father or disagree with Father that we pray for Father. Pray that Father becomes more like Jesus, more loving, more forgiving, more generous and responsive to the needs of his congregation. Pray that Father be more open to the Spirit and inspiration of God. Pray that he becomes more humble. Pray that he always be faithful to the pope and magisterium of the Church, that he be zealous in following canon law and the norms of the Church. Pray that he be filled with the Holy Spirit when he preaches. Pray that he be more devoted to the Holy Mother. Whatever your disagreement relates to; bring it to God in prayer.
If there are enough people praying for Father then you will see Father becoming a better priest but it needs to be serious consistent prayer not just one quick Hail Mary. Find a hundred people willing to pray daily for Father and things will change. Find two hundred and things will improve even quicker.
Unfortunately, it seems easier to find two hundred people to complain and tear down Father than it is to find two hundred to pray. We have to ask ourselves why that is true, where all this negativity and dissension comes from. Who gains from all the disagreements?
If you are sitting there in the pew complaining to yourself, looking for every possible negative meaning in his sermons and comments what are you getting out of the mass? Are you really going to receive all the graces you possibly could? Who is gaining from this situation, not you, not Father and not God; who’s left? Too often it seems we play into Satan’s hands. He wants dissension and disagreement. He wants to weaken and destroy your parish. Why help him? Pray and try to see the truth of the situation.
No priest is going to be perfect. No priest is going to be liked by all the parishioners. I think I’ve heard complaints about every priest I’ve ever known. That’s the reality. I prefer the sermons of certain priests to others but in this day and age we can’t be picky. Priests do make honest mistakes. Their interpretations of Church documents and rules are influenced by the way they were taught growing up, the parishes they were in and the pastors they worked under. They are genuinely trying to bring people closer to God. We may not understand their methods or agree but the solution is not to yell, confront or try to make a big deal. The solution is to pray and when possible teach.
The Internet has made the life of a priest a lot harder. It is easy to look up all the regulations of the Church and all the norms and say that Father is doing this wrong. We wonder why Father doesn’t know all the rules etc. The reality is that Father has less time to read Zenit than we do. I used to be close to a parochial vicar who served in a parish of 1900 families. He served with another vicar, a pastor and a retired priest so he was lucky. He couldn’t even keep up with his email there were so many demands on his time. He was also lucky because he served the first twelve years of his priesthood with a pastor to guide and advise him.
Not all priests are that fortunate to be able to turn to another more experienced priest for guidance or to have other priests to share the load. Too many are stressed and overloaded going from one demand to another. They don’t have the luxury of time to create perfect Lenten programs. They make mistakes. The solution is to pray and when possible help out in the parish.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that we have a priest to give us the Sacraments. We ask that You send angels to protect him. Fill him with your spirit; open his heart to Your love so that he can love his parishioners. Fill him with love for You, Mary, the Church, the Sacraments and his people. Guide him in his decisions and actions. Help him to be faithful to the pope and magisterium. Open our hearts to love him as You desire us to. Protect us from the temptations of Satan to criticize and tear down. Put our parish under the protection of Your angels. We ask all of this in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen

Remember Their Sacrifices

Remember the Sacrifices

Usually on August 4th we celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. This year his feast day falls on a Sunday but it still is as good a time as any to take a good look at the life of a parish priest.
Too often it seems the favorite activity of Catholics is complaining about their priests. We expect Father to be perfect when we ourselves are not. How often do we forget the sacrifices a man has made to become a priest, sacrifices we would not have made!
It is easy to remember that Father has taken a vow of celibacy but do we really think about what that means. Not only will they not have intimate relations with a woman but they will also not have children. They miss out on the joys of parenthood of raising a child, of seeing them graduate from school, get married and have children. Instead of the joys and struggles of family life too often they live lonely lives, overworked, underpaid and without the support of a spouse.
Do we really know all a priest does? Too many people seem to believe that the only time Father works is when he is in church, saying mass, hearing confessions, or doing weddings and funerals. Many of us remember back to pre Vatican II days when there was an abundance of priests and expect the same availability from modern priests.
It isn’t possible. I don’t know the exact statistics but there is somewhere as many as three times as many parishioners for every priest as there were in the 1960’s. Three times as many people to deal with, three times as many sick calls, three times as many anointing of the sick and that is just the beginning.
Society has changed drastically. We no longer have the support of the extended family to help us. Often parents are on their own dealing with the stress of raising children. There is an explosion of one parent families. There is a breakdown of society in terms of drugs and violence. There are so many issues for parents to deal with. Often the first person they turn to for advice is their clergyman.
Today we also have the stress of dealing with our aging parents. There are so many emotional and financial issues to deal with. We don’t know what is right or wrong, what we should do and we need to talk to somebody we can trust. Again the first person many people turn to is often our clergyman. At the same time Father himself may be dealing with this issue.
Marriages are in trouble today. Often you don’t hear anything because people keep it to themselves. It is not something you talk about in public but it is something you’d go to a priest to talk about. Many priests I know perform heroically trying to save marriages. Not everyone can be convinced to go to a counselor. Then there are those who are preparing for marriage. It is Father’s responsibility to make sure they are really prepared.
Then there are those people who need spiritual direction. They want to grow in their spiritual life and need to talk to someone. I’m having this problem in my prayer life. I feel dry. Do you think…The first person they go to is Father.
There are a lot more lonely people, seniors whose outlived their spouses and close friends. Their children are far away and often estranged over their lack of faith. At times these seniors just need someone to talk to, to listen to them, to remind them that they are loved by God.
There are many who need to be encouraged about their children. They need to be reminded to keep praying and trust that God will bring them back to their faith.
There are those who have left the faith because of marriage issues or some other problem who near the end of their lives seek help in returning or preparing for death.
All of these people come to Father for advice. Some he may be able to encourage into going to professionals for help, others won’t go to anyone else but Father. None of this would show up in the bulletin and not all of them occur during office hours. I worked my way through Catholic high school by helping at the rectory and there were a lot of appointments at night. If you think about it working people can’t always come during office hours.
Many of these kinds of appointments are physically and emotionally draining. You have to listen both to the people speaking and the Holy Spirit. You want so badly to be able to help the person and comfort them. It is draining. Praying with people is draining. That kind of situation takes a lot more out of you than you’d expect.
Then there are the things you think of as a priest job, preparing sermons, doing funerals and sick calls. We all know about these but do we really have any idea how long it takes.
A good priest doesn’t just sit at the computer and whip out a sermon. Most of those I know take time to pray first then prayerfully read the readings and then think about what to say. A weekday sermon could take anywhere from a half hour to over an hour. A Sunday sermon would definitely take hours.
Funerals take even more time because you have to make it personal. For many priests with the size of the parish you need help because it is impossible to know everyone that well. The priest has to do a little research, talking to family members in order to give a good sermon. They have that task along with the normal duty of comforting family members.
Sick calls take more time than you’d think. First you have to drive to the home or hospital. Then you usually spend time with the patient and care giver talking. Father may be the first person they had to talk to in days so he can’t just run in and out. It takes time especially if he hears their confession. Often the care giver needs comfort at this time.
We also don’t know how often Father goes to visit nursing homes. Then there are the many parishioners who can’t get out. It is true that many extraordinary ministers bring communion to these people but they like to see Father and only he can hear their confessions or anoint them
This is probably only the tip of the iceberg as far as demands on a priest’s time. You had all of the meetings necessary to running a parish, the organizations and activities that he has to support and attend. You have all the diocesan demands on his time, reports and meetings.
Our priests have sacrificed a great deal to serve their people and the Church. They could have had successful careers and families but instead chose to answer God’s call to service. They do this out of love for God and people. They do this because they wanted to help us draw closer to God and help us into heaven. They deserve our respect, our support and our prayers.

Listen With Your Heart

Go into a Catholic Church and sit in front of the Tabernacle, quiet your heart and listen. Jesus is speaking to all who come and listen but we have to quiet our hearts.
He is saying. Come to me. I am here. I am waiting for you. I am Jesus and I long for you to come to spend time with me. I am really here. Jesus, the Son of God, sits here and waits for you all day, every day. Come be with me. Spend time with me. Open your heart and let me in.
I am the same Jesus you read about in the Gospels. I am He who was born in the stable at Bethlehem. I performed my first miracle at Cana when I changed water into wine. I am He who multiplied bread and fish to feed the five thousand. I am the same Jesus who walked the roads of Galilee and Judea performing miracles.
I am the same one who healed the lepers, gave sight to the blind, and restored hearing to the deaf. I made the mute speak, the lame walk. People were healed simply by touching my garment. I am he who raised the dead. I returned life to the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain and Lazarus.
I am the same Jesus who walked on water. I am He who calmed the storm. I have all of the power in the universe at my disposal. I can calm the storms in your life too. Come to me. I am here waiting for you. I love you.
I am the same Jesus who endured the Passion for you. For you I agonized in the Garden. I suffered greatly for you. I suffered not because I knew what awaited me but because I could see your indifference, how rarely you would come to visit Me.
I endured the scourging for the love of you. Think about the pain of the scourging and beating that I took. Every inch of my body was in pain. The Roman soldiers were not limited to thirty-nine blows. I was struck thousands of times throughout the Passion. They even crowned me with thorns, long painful thorns that dug through my scalp every time they struck the crown. I endured this for love of you.
I walked the way of the cross for you. The Cross dug into the wounds on my shoulder making them deeper. It fell against the wounds on my back causing me further agony. Every time I fell I landed on the wounds on my chest and legs causing more pain.
I was crucified for you. You can not imagine the pain. Just to lie on my wounded back was agony. Every time My crown touched the cross it moved opening new wounds. Then they nailed me to the Cross. What pain! To hang with my weight from nails added to the pain of the cross.
I loved you enough to die an intensely painful death for you. I gave every drop of blood for you. For you! I thought of you as I hung on the cross.”Father forgive them” included you not just those present. I love you.
Come to me in the Eucharist. Open your hearts to me. I want to pour my love upon you. Come and be with me. Think about my love for you. Open your hearts to me. Focus on me and I will change your life. Spend time with me. Learn how much I love you. My love for you is so intense that you can’t imagine it.
Stop worrying about your past. The sins you confessed are forgiven. Focus on me not your faults.
Forget all the nonsense of the world, sports, TV shows, music, everything and focus on me. I am here and I love you. I want to pour my love upon you but you must open your heart.
I am here. I know everything you have ever done and will ever do. I love you anyway and I want to be with you. Come to me. Open your heart to the greatest love you could ever know. I long to bless you. I know all that you really need and I long to provide it. Come, Come to me! Open your heart!

Here I am, Lord. I come to You but I need Your help to let go of my past to forget my sins and open my heart totally to You. I want to be totally open to You, to hold nothing back. Help me to come to You often to receive Your love. Help me to be still and open my heart, allowing You to pour Your love upon me. I want that so bad. Amen

We Are Not Racists or Reactionaries!

Did you know that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, believes that those opposed to Obamacare belong in the same category of people as the segregationists who opposed civil rights in the 50’s and 60’s? That’s right she places the leadership of the Catholic Church, the pro-life movement and those defending their 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion in the same category as the White Citizen’s Councils and the Klan. We are as bad as those who assassinated Medgar Evers, beat the Freedom Riders and killed 4 little girls with a bomb one Sunday in Birmingham.
Why because we opposed Obamacare. It doesn’t matter that the Catholic bishops originally supported National Healthcare right up to the rejection of the Stupak Amendment. It doesn’t matter that the Church supported a national Health plan when both President Nixon and Clinton proposed it. All who oppose this program are as bad as racists. We must be greedy or prejudiced to oppose health care. The president could have gotten a better health plan with the support of the Church but instead he sold out to Planned Parenthood. Why blame us for opposing a plan that promotes the killing of children?
I’m glad she isn’t one of those politicians who make a big deal of proclaiming her catholicity while contradicting the Church because she certainly doesn’t get the faith.
As Catholics we are called to do everything possible to prevent abortion. We can not support it in any way. Some day we have to go before Almighty God and explain why we didn’t do all we could to save the lives of His children. Kathleen Sebelius, Joe Biden and President Obama will not be there as our defense attorneys. What they think or say will not matter in that moment. Their opinions don’t matter only God’s!
Face it Abortion is the great evil of our time, as bad as segregation, as bad as slavery. We deny millions the right to live. The African-American community is decimated by Abortion. How can opposing Abortion be considered racism?
Why isn’t abortion considered exploitation of the Black Community? Look where the clinics are located, predominately in urban communities or near colleges? Why is there any profit involved in Abortion? How much money does Planned Parenthood make off of abortion in black communities?
Why should government funds be needed? If it is so good, why aren’t the big foundations, Bill Gates, Beatty etc funding Planned Parenthood? Why are we forcing people who believe it to be immoral to fund it through taxes?
Why do we think it is right to throw out the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment? What will we do next? Will we force the Quakers and Mennonites to join the military, to fight in wars? Their religion forbids that but that’s irrelevant to this administration. Will we force the Amish to join the modern world? After all religious freedom no longer matters and the president knows best.

What Kind of People Are We Becoming?

It is time for Americans to take a good look at themselves and ask whether or not they like what they see. Is this how we want to be remembered by posterity, the way we are today?
During the Sixties there was a phrase and movie called the Ugly American. That is the way we often appeared to the outside world, arrogant, greedy and ill-mannered to say the least. Yet that was also the decade of the Civil Rights Movement, one of the greatest movements in American history. You had to admire the participants’ willingness to stand up for their rights, peaceably, nonviolently, suffering all kinds of abuse. What strength of character and courage they displayed! It was also the decade of the Peace Corps, Vista and many Appalachian programs which utilized thousands of volunteers who gave of themselves to help others. Thousands of men volunteered believing we were fighting for democracy in Vietnam. Many more stood up for what they felt was right and opposed the war. There was much to admire in America.
Can we say the same thing today? Sandy and Moore, Oklahoma certainly brought out the best in us as we sought to help each other to recover from such tragedy. But what about every thing else going on in this country? Our Congress can not work out compromises about anything. Despite Sandy Hook there has been no compromise on gun control. In one weekend this summer there were 12 killed and 74 wounded in shootings in one city, Chicago. It was safer in Afghanistan that weekend. Why can’t we do anything?
Can anything be uglier than the emails floating around the Internet? People who claim to be Christian forward notes which are thinly disguised racism. The Klan would be proud!
Is this what we fought for in the Sixties? Is that why our soldiers suffered in World War II, Korea and Vietnam so we could forward racist trash? Are we worthy to call ourselves American?
Look at TV especially reality shows. Have we lost all sense of shame? Do we really want to be seen by millions of people cursing our heads off? Is that how we want to be remembered? Is that what we want to tell our kids about when we’re old? What did you do important in life? Do we really want to answer that I was on national TV cursing my head off? Is that really such a great accomplishment?
Look at events in Texas this past week. Are we proud of fighting for the right to unlimited abortion carrying bottles of urine and feces? Is that what we learned from Martin Luther King Jr.? Wouldn’t that have been the tactic of the Klan?
One argument against a 20 week limit is that we wouldn’t know if a child has Downs. We insist on the right to kill a baby with Downs. How is this different from what Hitler did? Wouldn’t he support our position if he was alive today? Wouldn’t our tactics remind him of his brown shirts? Do we really believe in the Democratic process?
What makes us different from Nazi Germany and Red China? Abortion in America has quadrupled the number killed in the Holocaust. The number of abortions in America is almost as high as the total number of deaths in World War II including those killed in the Holocaust by disease, hunger as well as combat in Europe, Asia and Africa. One wonders why we bothered to fight the Germans? We seem to be just as bad, only we kill people from all backgrounds not just Jews. Is this progress? Shouldn’t we be different? Doesn’t this country stand for better than this?
We talk about Tolerance a lot but no one is allowed to disagree with us. Those who oppose Abortion are labeled terrorists by Homeland Security and harassed by the Internal Revenue Service. Christian teaching and preaching on marriage is labeled as hate speech. At the same time conservatives are just as bad when it comes to gun control and immigration reform. God help the politician who actually tries to do what he believes is right rather than toe the party line.
We’ve been taught to love our enemies. We used to be able to put aside our differences for the good of the community. We disagreed with ideas, plans and proposals based on what they were rather than who made them. Our politicians weren’t afraid to compromise to work together. Now none of that is possible.
We are a people full of anger and hate. It is not enough to disagree with someone. We must destroy their plans. We can’t accept jury verdicts but go on and on for weeks stirring up anger and hate. Just look at the reaction to the Casey Anthony verdict a couple of years ago. Ironically, those TV pundits who stirred up anger over the Casey Anthony verdict have been virtually silent when it came to Gosnell. Why don’t the children literally torn apart by him matter?
Is this who we want to be, a nation of angry, hateful people ready to bombard politicians who disagree with us with feces and urine, a people unable to work together, to seek the good in a proposal, to come to a compromise? Do we really want to do anything that Hitler would favor? Do we want to be remembered as stubborn children who have to have their own way? Is this how America became such a great nation? Can we be proud of who we are when we resort to such tactics?
We are supposed to be the most advanced nation on earth? Are we really? What would Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Martin Luther King think? What would those who fought our wars think? Is this the country so many have given their lives for?
What would women like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony think? Did they really struggle for the right of women to kill their children? Did they struggle for decimation of the African-American race by Abortion?
Didn’t all these people struggle against hatred, oppression and exploitation?
How would they feel?
We were once the greatest nation on earth, one with flaws but still greater than any other nation in history. Now we seem to have abandoned the characteristics that made us great, our willingness to sacrifice for the common good, to work together, to compromise to stand for what we believed, to fight courageously to change our flaws through hard work.
The abolitionists, women’s movement, labor movement, civil rights and other reform movements all illustrate the dedication and courage of our predecessors. Are we living up to their legacy?
What will our legacy be? What do we want our legacy to be? Will our generation be the one to destroy all our predecessors fought for?

Father Forgive Them

One of the last things Jesus said before His death was “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Is this true any more? Can we claim ignorance as our defense for not being pro-life when we meet Jesus? Is it possible to be a pro-choice Catholic who doesn’t understand the horror of abortion as what it is?
With all the stories of Gosnell and other late-term abortionists can we really believe it is about choice? Isn’t 20 weeks long enough to make a choice? Why are we killing children who survive abortions or are born alive? Aren’t we being like Hitler when we claim we need late-term abortions so we can abort children with Downs? Don’t the chants of Hail Satan by pro-choice demonstrators at the Texas state house show their true colors?
Is it really about choice to oppose every measure that would help women make an informed decision? Why oppose waiting periods and ultrasounds if you care about the woman and not about the dollars involved? Shouldn’t abortion clinics be nonprofit if this is really about women’s rights and lives rather than profit?
Why not invite those from pregnancy programs to clinics to offer women a real alternative? Wouldn’t it be better for women to know all their options?
What about the emotional pain caused by an abortion? Where are the counseling programs for those who suffer after undergoing an abortion? Why is it that pro-lifers have to provide these services?
With the Age of the Internet, Google and Bing, it is so easy to find out the truth about abortion. Our Church has never been silent. Do we really think we can claim that we did not know what was happening? Do we think God would believe this?
We can never forget that this world is not all we have. We have an eternal destiny.